As If You Need Any More Reasons To Eat Your Vegetables
We’ve always known that fresh, whole plant foods are good for us, partly because of their antioxidant and nutrient content but also because of their fiber, a well-established essential for healthy digestion and disease prevention.
The benefits of fiber had still been shrouded in a bit of mystery, however—until recently. It all comes down to digestion. Sure, we know that fiber “moves things along,” but it’s now confirmed that fiber also plays a crucial role in fostering a healthy gut microbiome. By providing nourishment to the good bacteria (probiotics) in our stomachs, fiber allows these bacteria to thrive—and when they thrive, we thrive.
More specifically, getting enough fiber helps maintain the delicate balance among the various species of bacteria in our digestive system. Additionally, a healthy microbiome ensures an adequate layer of protective mucus lining the intestines. Researchers found that a low-fiber diet compromises this mucus lining, resulting in bacteria sitting closer to the intestines, a condition that, if present for to long, can contribute to fat gain, chronic inflammation (in the gut and throughout the body), and higher blood sugar levels.
There’s more. In addition to protecting us from general ill health, a high-fiber diet nourishes intestinal cells. Once the bacteria digest the fiber, they release short-chain fatty acids, which are absorbed by and fuel intestinal cells.
The key is consuming a wide variety of fiber sources to make sure you have your bases (and your bacteria) covered. While fiber pills may help, no supplements can come close to a whole-foods diet that features several fruits and vegetables.