Monday, August 18, 2014

Fiber

Happy Monday Readers!



I am still super excited about the increased interest in gut health we have been seeing in the media. It seems as though every publication I pick up has an article dedicated to the correlation between gut health and illness. I just find it so fascinating.

I graduated with a degree in nutrition and our main focus in most classes was the digestive system. One of the reasons I really loved my degree was the emphasis we put on gut health and how to really keep yourself happy and healthy.

I think the biggest questions are where do I obtain a healthy stomach flora and how do we keep it diverse and plentiful. As I had said in my last post there is scientific data showing that American's have the least diverse stomach flora. This is due to the lack of whole foods and fiber present in most average American diets. Most of the processed foods found in the grocery store tend to be partially digested. Partially digesting the food allows some foods to have longer shelf lives which keeps them shelf stable and can keep the foods from going bad. Some of the work your GI tract would normally do is now done for you, which then keeps your microbiota from staying busy. Once this has happened your gut bacteria tends to get bored and eventually some of it dies off and all the other bacteria have to pick up the slack and eventually become tired. Continual ingestion of these foods is essentially putting your flora on strike and without work or food they become angry and sick. It's a terrible state for your body to be in and allows it to be more susceptible to foreign invaders that can cause inflammation, infection and illness.

There are many ways to increase the diversity of the microbiota but the best place to start is replacing some of those already digested foods with whole foods that contain lots of fiber.

To Read More about Fiber and it's benefits click below:


Dietary fiber is roughage or bulk found in all parts of plant foods that your body cannot digest or absorb. Unlike other food components, such as fats, proteins or carbohydrates, fiber cannot break down in the body.

There are two types of fiber soluble and insoluble fiber.

Fiber is the primary food for bacteria. If we are not ingesting it the diversity of the bacteria in our stomach is limited, period. Jeff Leach from the Human Food Project is doing research on the difference between "hunter gather" type eaters and more "convenience" type eaters (having the knowledge the hunter gather diets are filled with fiber) and evaluating their overall health and microbial status.

He says that if the bacteria in our stomach don't get fed properly they will eventually start eating you. They eat your mucous lining in your colon, and its thought that maybe once you start to degrade that protective barrier, you then expose yourself to potential problems.

It is really amazing to really see the role eating whole foods does in your body. This IS the reason why we named our blog "Parsley, Rosemary & Thyme, a WHOLISTIC guide to living". We always want to emphasize the importance of eating whole foods and what they really do for our lives. Now all that being said what are some of the foods that contain the most fiber?

There are two real types of fiber that can extend the length of the GI tract. Cellulose fibers are in the tough parts of fruits and vegetables- such as broccoli stems and the bottoms of asparagus. Fructan fibers are the second and are found in many different fruits and vegetables like onions and artichokes.


Fiber Rich Foods

Brassica Vegetables- Brocoli, brussell sprouts, cauliflower, bitter greens and cabbage.

Allium Vegetables- Onions, garlic, shallots and leeks.

Artichokes
Celery
Peas
Asparagus
Avocados
All Berries
Legumes
Pears
Apples

Whole grains- chia seeds, flax seed, whole oats, brown rice and bran.

Cooking can break down the fibrous matter so making sure you eat a combination of both raw and cooked vegetables help increase the fiber that actually makes it through your body. Jeff Leach says the leek is probably the healthiest thing from the grocery store for your microbiome. He says that eating a leek can change the whole gut microbiome in less than 48 hours. This is because the gut microbes eat on the fibers found in the leek and start a fermentation process. The fermentation's most beneficial byproducts are short-chain fatty acids that provide energy for your intestinal cells, help repair the colon lining and increase acidity in the colon. This makes it an undesirable place for most infection causing bacteria as well as parasites.

The low grade inflammation caused by the degradation of the colon has shown a correlation to raising your risk to chronic diseases. I know that when I am not eating enough fiber rich foods I feel just plain gross. I have always had stomach issues and I believe a lot of it has to do with my diet. Over the years I have tried to increase my fiber and water intake to keep my stomach happy. I have grown accustom to including fibrous grains and vegetables in as many meals as possible. I have been on the candida cleanse for a couple weeks now. For the first week I forgot to plan my meals properly and didn't increase my fibrous vegetable intake to take the place of all the grains I would normally ingest. Because of that I started to get really bad stomachaches. I noticed the one thing missing was my daily intake of whole fiber and once I discovered that I started putting and emphasis on ingesting fibrous vegetables and felt a ton better.

Just as we have said before the body needs to ease into diet changes. If you feel as though you are not ingesting enough dietary fiber start slow. If you run to the store, buy everything on the list of high fiber foods, and eat it all in one sitting, your body will be really confused. It can cause both blockages and increased transit time so be mindful and increase your fiber in small increments. Make tiny changes at first like replacing refined grains with whole grains or some of your cooked vegetables with raw vegetables. Also, some people may think all plants are extremely rich in dietary fiber but this is not true. Some of the most popular vegetables ingested by Americans, tomatoes and carrots,  have the least amount of bioavailable fibers and replacing some of these with the fiber rich plants may also be a good option.

I am glad I got to share some information about fiber, today. I find it all so interesting. Danielle has some really amazing things lined up for the rest of the week. She has a chia seed pudding that is super high in fiber that her and Ben it on a regular basis that she will be sharing with you. She also has a great interview for wednesday. Please check back!

Laura

Ps. Don't for get to read the Human Microbiome post two weeks ago!

Disclaimer: PRTLIVING (and all of those feature and interviewed) is limited to providing self-help education in natural health matters and advocating of a healthy lifestyle. If you have a medical problem, please seek the advice of your medical doctor. 


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