A lot of people deep clean their houses in the spring. It can be satisfying to wipe the grime off the backsplash in your kitchen or get the cobwebs out of those hard-to-reach corners in the office. But have you ever thought about spring cleaning your gut? You can, with fiber!
Fiber and gut health
Chances are you’ve been told fiber keeps you regular. An analysis of five different experiments on fiber and regularity found this common wisdom is spot on. When folks with occasional constipation increased their fiber intake, they had more frequent bowel movements.*[i]
That’s because fiber moves through your system undigested, adding bulk to waste and helping it move along more comfortably.* But fiber’s benefits go beyond healthy elimination.
Fiber and Probiotics: A Winning Team
A lot of folks turn to probiotic supplements to improve their gut health and function. But while probiotics do have important health benefits, they don’t actually increase levels of healthy bacteria in the gut. You know what does? Fiber.*
Your body can’t digest fiber, but probiotics can and do. Feeding them fiber—a natural prebiotic—helps them multiply and improves the balance of good to harmful bacteria in your gut.*
The ugly effects of not getting enough fiber...
What happens when you don’t eat enough fiber? A study of mice fed a low-fiber diet had startling results. Not only did the mice lose 90 percent of their gut bacteria, their intestines actually shrunk and the layer of protective mucus coating their gut got thinner![ii]
…and how you can fix it
What happens when you increase fiber consumption? A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found out. After volunteers who ate an average amount of fiber upped their roughage intake for three weeks, their levels of beneficial bacteria went up while their populations of harmful critters went down.[iii]
ARE YOU GETTING ENOUGH FIBER?
But there was a catch: Once the volunteers went back to their old ways, their levels of both kinds of bacteria returned to previous levels. That underlines just how important consistency is when it comes to consuming enough fiber. Are you getting enough?
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
[i] Yang J. World J Gastroenterol. 2012 Dec 28;18(48):7388-83.
[ii] Zimmer C. New York Times. 2018 Jan 1. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/01/science/food-fiber-microbiome-inflammation.html
[iii] Courage KH. Scientific American. 2015 Mar 23. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/fiber-famished-gut-microbes-linked-to-poor-health1/