A lot of diets today will look at protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals as part of a balanced diet. Others will look at calories in against calories out, and look at dieting as just an energy cycle, while some will have you eliminate a certain type of food from the diet, or eat in excess of one type of food. Very rarely, however, do you find anybody that says anything about how much fibre you need in your body, or even why you need fibre in the first place. Since it’s not directly absorbed it’s not really that helpful, right?
Wrong. Fibre, although it doesn’t play a role in your muscle building or fat burning, plays a huge role in determining the health of your gut bacteria, and can mean the difference between obesity and being lean. Within every human, there is an army of microbiota — and just like any army, it needs to be maintained. Doing so helps balance glucose levels in the blood, determine how we store fat, and determine how we respond to hormones that tell us how full we are.
Having “Gut Bacteria” sounds disgusting — how do I get rid of them?
Bacteria are a common enemy to good health in everyday life. It is no surprise, therefore, to be horrified that we harbour one hundred trillion bacteria in our gut — about three pounds worth — and most of them are locked away inside of you. It would be fictitious to say that these bacteria work to protect us, but the way our bodies have adapted to be able to cultivate these bacteria and use them to its advantage gives this illusion.
To be without gut bacteria would leave you unable to digest many of the foods that pass through our digestive tract, making you susceptible to infections that manage to pass through the inhospitable conditions of the stomach, leaving you vulnerable to infection. Not an attractive prospect.
Fine, the gut bacteria can stay. But what is fibre and how does it help them?
Fibre is an indigestible carbohydrate that is obtained from plant matter (there is no fibre at all in animal tissues). Fibre has a calorific value of zero since we cannot digest it, which means that high fibrous foods can often have a low-calorie content. Fibre can help promote the growth of certain good bacteria, and a lack of fibre can lead to the growth of bad bacteria, because of the way fibre helps to move food through the gut.
Fibre, fibre, wherefore art thou fibre?
Fibre, as mentioned above, is found predominantly in plant matter. As such, vegetables are a great source of fibre; but also nuts and seeds, whole grain foods, corns and oats. If none of these seem viable options, there are always supplements you can turn to in order to boost fibre levels. Mixing fibre with probiotics is also a great way of promoting healthy gut bacteria.
Ultimately, your diet will have the biggest effect on the health of your body — no-one can deny that. Having a bad diet cannot be excused because you have good bacteria in your stomach; it is very easy to kill off those good bacteria and have bad bacteria take its place. However, with a good diet that pays attention to your gut bacteria, it is easier to achieve your body goals by working with this inner army.
About the Author: Jaspal is an entrepreneur with a passion for inspiring the health of body and mind by using health foods, supplements, and nutritional information. Director of company FILTUR, a site that compares brands of supplements, health foods and more. His goal is to help everybody achieve their aim of living healthier, happier lives.