There’s no doubt about it: fiber is crucial to optimal health, particularly digestive health. Fiber helps ease constipation, promotes a healthy weight, and even helps to lower your risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. But until now, scientists didn’t have such a clear picture on the effect of different types of fiber on gut health.
New Research Sheds Light on Fiber’s Role in Gut Health
Researchers from the Luxemborg Institute of Health in Germany colonized mice with synthetic human gut microbiota. The study, published in the journal Cell, demonstrated that mice on a low-fiber diet, or on a diet high in soluble fiber, such as the fiber added to processed goods and cereals to increase fiber intake, actually had fewer beneficial bacteria in the gut. Without an adequate amount of fiber-eating good bacteria, harmful, mucous-eating bacteria begin to take over and tear through the walls of the gastrointestinal tract. Gut cells that line the GI tract then become susceptible to pathogens that instigate chronic inflammation, colitis, leaky gut, and other digestive issues.
Switch Up the Fiber and Reverse Gut Health
Eating a low-fiber or soluble-fiber-rich diet? Your gut may be feeling the effects. Fortunately, switching up your fiber can reverse the consequences. Mice fed a diet high in fermentable fibers enjoyed an intact mucous barrier and flourishing gut health. When the mice on a low-fat diet were put on a high-fiber diet, the amount of beneficial bacteria in the gut increased.
Your gut health is inextricably linked to every aspect of your health. We share our guts with a complex ecosystem of more than 100 trillion bacteria, fungi, viruses, and protozoa. Your microbiome must be properly tended to in order to maintain optimal (and functional) health. After all, your microbiome influences everything from genetic expression, immune function, body weight and composition, to mental health, memory, and the prevention of diseases, such as diabetes and cancer.
To protect and nourish your gut health, add the following fiber-rich foods to your diet:
➢ Green beans
➢ Brussels sprouts
➢ Flax seeds
➢ Chia seeds
➢ Psyllium seed husk
➢ Root vegetables and tubers (onions, sweet potatoes, jicama)
➢ Sunflower sprouts