Are You Getting Enough Fibre In Your Diet.
There was a brilliant documentary on SBS last week called the Diet Myth (watch it here) which covered at great length our gut microbiome and the importance in particular of getting enough fibre in your diet.
Basically when you aren’t getting enough fibre in your diet, not only do you end up constipated, you may be fast tracking your way to disease such as colon cancer. We cannot nourish our good gut bacteria without fibre, our little friends hiding out in our colon would starve and be wiped out.
Get this, as an adult human, we typically have 1.5kg of bacteria living in us at any one time. This is the weight of our brain in bacteria. Pretty bizarre to think about that right?
Our bacteria don’t just affect the health of our immune system and physical body, they have pathways to our brain as well and play a significant role in our behaviour and the way we think.
Research such as that which is being conducted by the Human Food Project is showing that populations who eat the most fibre are the longest living.
Image of Hadza women cooking tubers via www.wired.com
The crux of the matter is this- Eat bad food and you create bad communities of bacteria instead of good ones. The main culprit for poor gut health these days seems to be attributed to a low fibre diet thanks to too much take away and processed food in general that is stripped off all it’s goodness.
The Hadza Tribe in Africa are some of the last people on this earth still getting 95% of their diet from hunting and gathering.
Hadza kids have been found to consume more up to ten times as much fibre as we in the West do on a daily basis. These kids eat between 30-100g of fibre a day from the age of 4 vs the measly 28g on average eaten by the typical Western adult. They really do put us to shame.
As a result the variety of bacteria species living in their gut is three times greater than the 1200 species we commonly have. This lack of diversity greatly impacts upon our immune systems ability to control inflammation in our body which when left unchecked leads to disease.
So what constitutes as good sources of fibre?
The Hadza have a high plant diet. They gather and eat lots of berries, roots such as yam, jicama and lots of fibrous veggies and fruit.
For us, this would translate to veggies such as fennel, leeks, celery, artichoke, onion, asparagus…. things that are quite stringy in nature and require chewing.
Sweet potato, properly prepared legumes, whole oranges and additional ingredients such as psyllium husk are all fantastic sources of fibre which nourish and feed our good communities of bacteria.
Getting plenty of plant matter is crucial for everyone no matter what eating style you associate with.
For the hard core paleo peep’s out there, zero carb is not the way to go unless you are undergoing a specific temporary healing protocol. Starving your bacteria colonies is not the way to go. Sure it might result in weight loss however long term it is going to make you feel shocking.
Food for thought!