Studies have shown that eating adequate amounts of fibre can increase the number of friendly bacteria growing in the gut–not only does fibre increase the number of ‘good guys’ present, but it significantly increased a specific bacteria that is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. The growth of this bacteria provides numerous health benefits, and has the potential to positively affect common health concerns such as: obesity, inflammatory conditions, colon cancer, and type 2 diabetes.
Backtracking slightly, most of us are aware that there are bacteria in the gut due to the popularity of probiotic yogurt commercials, however, we may not understand just how important these little critters are to our health. It is estimated that the human body has 10 times more bacteria cells than human cells! With such an impressive ratio, it is no wonder they play such an important role.
It’s not an easy life for our gut bacteria, one might compare it to living on a battlefield. There are ‘good’ bacteria, and then there are ‘bad’ bacteria, and in general, the bad bacteria can quickly overpopulate as a result of typical North American diet and lifestyle choices. When this happens it is known as dysbiosis, which may be a contributing factor in a variety of bowel and chronic diseases. The ‘good’ bacteria are the ones that help maintain health and support our immune systems. Needless to say, we need to support the growth of the ‘good guys,’ and according to the study, fibre can do just that!
The recommended intake of fibre for Canadian adults is between 21-38 grams—the majority of Canadians are not meeting this recommendation. So how can you incorporate more fibre into your diet to protect your gut?
Try the following:
1) Eat more vegetables, raw or cooked
Vegetables are naturally loaded with both soluble and insoluble fibre. Choose a variety of vegetables to ensure a proper mix of both types of fibre for optimum health.
2) Eat whole grains
Whole grains include foods such as: brown rice, quinoa, amaranth, oats, and millet to name a few. These grains have lots of fibre along with other great nutrients. Eat them as a side dish, salad, or porridge—they taste great any way you cook them.
3) Get seedy
Eating seeds like chia, hemp, and flax is a great way to get a good balanced fibre source in your diet, and they can easily be added into so many meals. Try adding them into your next smoothie!
Getting our gut bacteria in balance, and putting the ‘good guys’ in power is not necessarily easy. There are specific foods and lifestyle practices that will help to build and maintain the balance over time. Terms such as probiotics and prebiotics may sound familiar, but what are they, how do we get them, and how do they help? Stay tuned for more details to come!
- J Nutr. 2012 Jul;142(7):1259-65. doi: 10.3945/jn.112.158766. Epub 2012 May 30. 454 pyrosequencing reveals a shift in fecal microbiota of healthy adult men consuming polydextrose or soluble corn fiber.
- Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2012 Oct;9(10):599-608. doi: 10.1038/nrgastro.2012.152. Epub 2012 Aug 21. The gut microbiota in IBD.
- Altern Med Rev. 2004 Jun;9(2):180-97. The causes of intestinal dysbiosis: a review.