A recent animal study conducted at Stanford University School of Medicine indicates that a low-fiber diet not only depletes the healthy bacteria in your gut, but also can cause an irreversible loss of healthy bacteria in the guts of future generations–in as few as three to four generations.
Industrialization has produced processed and fast foods that are the leading contribution to a low-fiber diet. The study suggests that a low fiber diet results in the loss of important bacterial species in the gut. Once lost, trying to restore these beneficial bacteria may no longer be possible, even if a wholesome high-fiber diet is adopted. The important result of the study is that this loss of health-promoting bacteria can carry forward into future generations, sentencing them to gut problems irrespective of how healthy their diets are.
What can we do to avoid this unhappy result? Besides minimizing the use of antibiotics, which destroy gut bacteria, up the fiber and include probiotic-rich foods like cultured dairy. According to the Institute of Medicine, women need 25 grams of fiber per day, and men need 38 grams per day, significantly more than the average adult consumption of 15 grams per day.
Eating plant-based foods like fruit, vegetables, whole grains, seeds, nuts and legumes is the healthiest way to increase soluble and insoluble fiber, which are both important for a healthy diet.
Soluble fiber is found in a variety of foods including beans, peas, lentils, oatmeal, nuts, seeds, okra, apples, pears and berries. It’s effective at lowering blood cholesterol and regulating blood sugar.
Insoluble fiber is found in whole grains like brown rice and barley, wheat bran, carrots, broccoli, tomatoes and other fruits and vegetables. It’s effective at preventing constipation and lowers the risk of diverticular disease.
Cultured dairy foods, also known as fermented milk products, are dairy foods that have been fermented with good bacteria such as Lactobacillus. These foods include yogurt, kefir and cultured cheese. There are also non-dairy fermented foods like tempeh and kombucha. Two to three servings of cultured foods each day will add friendly bacteria into your system.
Keep in mind that a serving is how much food you choose to eat at one time, whether in a restaurant, from a package, or at home. To figure out portions that are right for you, seek the advice of a registered dietitian nutritionist (RD or RDN), a qualified food and nutrition expert.
Daily High Fiber Foods To Include:
1 slice of sprouted, whole grain bread (3 grams fiber)
1 (6 ounce) potato (4 grams fiber)
1 cup sliced raw carrots (3 grams fiber)
1/2 cup cooked leafy green vegetables (4 grams fiber)
1/4 cup avocado (1.7 grams fiber)
1 small tomato (1.4 grams fiber)
1 medium pear (4 grams fiber)
20 almonds (3 grams fiber)
1/2 cup garbanzo beans (6 grams fiber)
1 large artichoke (4.5 grams fiber)
1 cup shredded lettuce (1.0 gram fiber)
1 medium (8-inch) banana (3 grams fiber)
Total = (38.6 grams fiber)
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