- Maddy Belaustegui
FIBER FOR A HEALTHY GUT
There is no shortage of marketing surrounding gut health these days. Products claim they will aid in digestion, boost your immune system, and increase your overall health. Prebiotic and probiotic supplements are available everywhere. But how does gut health actually influence your body?
Gut microbiome or microbiota refers to the bacteria that reside in your gastrointestinal tract. A healthy gut is composed of certain balanced levels of beneficial bacteria in comparison to unhealthy bacteria, which leads to greater overall health. This is influenced by many factors including surgery and antibiotics, but also by diet. Eating whole foods is not only important for feeding yourself, but feeding the bacteria in your gut as well. While the body cannot fully breakdown fiber to use for fuel, gut bacteria use this fiber as food to flourish. There are several methods people use to “feed” these good bacteria, but the simplest and most important is consuming adequate fiber.
Fiber is found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for fiber is 25 g/day for women and 38 g/day for men. Most Americans’ fiber intake falls below these recommended ranges. Additionally, adequate fiber intake can help prevent high cholesterol, heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, and colorectal cancer. It also leads to improved gastrointestinal health by reducing constipation, hemorrhoids, and other digestive issues. Finally it is important in weight management as it will help you feel full and satisfied.
Here are some tips to add more fiber to your diet:
Mix in oats to meatloaf, bread or other baked goods.
Toss beans into your next salad or soup.
Chop up veggies to add to sandwiches or noodle dishes such as pasta or stir-fry.
Make a fruit smoothie or top cereal, pancakes or desserts with fruit.
When increasing your fiber intake, be sure to consume adequate fluids as well. Here are some recipes to try to incorporate a good dose of fiber into your day:
Veggie & Hummus Sandwich – 12 g
Black Bean Quinoa Bowl – 19 g
Cherry Tomato & Garlic Pasta – 7 g
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics | https://www.eatright.org/food/vitamins-and-supplements/nutrient-rich-foods/fiber