Intestinal bacteria play an important role in our digestive system. They extract energy, vitamins and nutrients from the food we eat for our bodies to use. As a result, some nutritionists think that supplying our bodies with more healthy bacteria could improve the microbial communities in our gut.
That’s why foods rich in probiotics, like yogurt, are so often marketed as health/diet foods. But research suggests a better way to improve the bacteria in your gut, and it has nothing to do with introducing more bacteria to your body.
The solution, which is pretty logical when you think about it, is to take care of the intestinal bacteria you already have by feeding them what they desire most: fiber.
That’s right. Your gut craves that bowel rocking, essential material to your diet, and if your gut doesn’t get what it wants, pain will most surely follow. That’s because fiber can also help prevent inflammation and disease, but when you have too little fiber, your microbes start to eat away at the mucus lining of your gut.
High-Fiber Diet Study With Mice
Researchers at the University of Michigan Medical School gave one group of mice a high-fiber diet, and another group of mice a fiber-free diet. The mice with a fiber-free diet were observed to have a “dramatically diminished” mucus layer in their intestines. Mice have a similar biological structure to humans, making these results even more concerning.
Furthermore, a study in Sweden revealed that chronic bowel disease is linked to bacteria penetrating the mucus layer of the gut when microbes have no fiber to feed off of.
The Benefits of Adding More Fiber to Your Diet
If you’re trying to lose weight, adding more fiber to your diet can help. Researchers discovered that increasing your fiber intake can alter your microbial profile from one linked to obesity to one of a leaner physique.
A high fiber diet also leads you to consume fewer calories, and helps to improve your immune system.
How to Incorporate More Fiber Into Your Diet
The good news is that any short term damage done to your gut as a result of a low-fiber diet is reversible simply by increasing your fiber intake on a daily basis. On and off fiber consumption is not enough to maintain a healthy gut.
A study revealed that eating more fiber is as easy as adding a fiber-enriched snack bar to your diet. In the study, 21 healthy adults with average fiber intake ate a snack bar with 21 grams of fiber for three weeks. This simple addition to their diet increased bacterial productivity significantly.
You can also add more fiber to your diet through various high fiber fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Some high fiber foods include cooked peas, beans, artichokes and black berries. 100% bran cereals are also good sources of fiber.
There are many ways you can get your daily fiber. Find one that works for you and start pleasing your inner microbes!