What has plain old fibre got to do with your magical gut bacteria?
our microbes process our food, educate our immune system on how to tell friend from foe, fight off nasty pathogens and influence everything from our metabolism (of hormones and food!) and our mood.
So what is quite amazing, is we have the direct ability to influence what species of bacteria can survive and thrive in our gut. Our diet changes what we are feeding the bacteria. And our bacterial species all have different requirements for nutrients, then what we eat will support different communities.
Put simply, eating good food feeds the good bacteria, and eating highly processed, high-sugar food feeds the bad bacteria.
FIBRE IS KEY
Disruption to our gut microbiome is key in many conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, asthma, MS, poor immunity and the list goes on.
Eating not enough fibre, plays the biggest role in this problem.
WHAT DOES OUR GUT BACTERIA DO WITH FIBRE?
When we eat fibre, our gut microbes feast away on it. Breaking it down to product short-chain fatty acids. These by-products of fermentation do amazingly good things in the gut. They provide energy to your intestinal cells, prevent DNA damage (such that is the pre-requisite for bowel cancer) and increase the acidity of the colon making is much less liveable for bad bacteria. They also regulate our immune system, especially in stopping it from becoming over-active (think autoimmune diseases).
WHAT SHOULD YOU EAT?
Fibre is such a broad word, like what even is it?!
There are three different types of fibre; resistant starch, insoluble, and soluble. Confusing right? We just need to eat a good mix of them all.
Useful foods: leafy vegetables (like broccoli), raspberries, chickpeas, avocados, raw almonds, flaxseed meal, fruits with the skin on, cold roast potatoes, rolled oats, lentils.
The more fibre you eat, the happier and more diverse your gut will be. So if you have gut concerns, or wonder if your gut health isn't amazing, the first step is to really focus on fibre-rich foods like those above. You will be directly feeding the good bacteria and starving off the bad bacteria, meaning a huge shift in the composition of your gut. This has downstream effects for the entire body. Your hormones will even be happier! Because there are certain bacteria that metabolise our oestrogen, as to make sure it doesn't build up excessively.
(And lastly, if you really know your gut needs working on and you don't know where to start, Bonnie our naturopath is amazing with gut concerns (she has extra specialist training on the gut) - you can book here with her.)
Until next time!
Take care, Melanie