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Do Fibers Really Make Your Gut Microbiota Happy?

In the previous installments of our fiber series, you got to know why there's such a buzz around fibers. You also learned about the components of the gut microbiota and how its condition affects your health. Now, let's take a closer look at how the fiber content in your diet affects your gut microbiota!


Low Fiber Intake is a Real Own Goal for Your Health

A diet lacking in fiber can lead not only to slower digestion and constipation but also affects the mutually beneficial cooperation of gut bacteria living in our intestines. In other words, if you don't consume enough vegetables, fruits, fiber-rich (whole grain, unrefined) cereals, legumes, oily seeds, you're letting down your gut microbiota and yourself.


Of course, there are situations, such as before digestive system surgery or examination, post-surgery recovery, or during active flare-ups of inflammatory bowel diseases (Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis), where less fiber might be advantageous. However, this is a rare occurrence. Examples include digestive system surgery preparation or recovery post-surgery or active flare-ups of inflammatory bowel diseases (Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis). Even in these cases, supporting and nourishing the gut microbiota is essential, and there are specific ways to do this. Leave this to the experts!


healthy digestion someone sitting on the toilet with pants down next to her toilet roll and toilet brush

Let's focus on the more common scenario where you're healthy and can confidently eat a fiber-rich diet! This is crucial because consuming the right amount of fiber contributes to preventing and reducing the risk of many diseases. You wouldn't want to miss out on this, right?


To find out how much fiber is sufficient, you can read about it in the first part of the series!


What's the Connection to the Gut Microbiota?

Without fibers, our digestion would be a complete failure, but they also play a crucial role in supporting the health of the gut microbiota. As a reminder: the sum of microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, viruses, etc.) living in the gastrointestinal tract is the gut microbiota. These microorganisms are essential for digestion, regulating the immune system, and maintaining our overall health and well-being.


In general, fiber consumption promotes the growth, reproduction, and diversity of bacteria comprising the gut flora. These beneficial bacteria (probiotics) help prevent the proliferation of harmful (pathogenic) bacteria and pathogens. Our intestines are not sterile, and that's a good thing, unless the balance is disrupted, and the "unfriendly" microorganisms outnumber the friendly ones.


Among fibers, there are those that serve as a food source for probiotics, and we call them prebiotics (as mentioned in episode 2 of the fiber series).


We're getting closer, almost revealing another important piece of the puzzle!


digestion system modell in the hands of a doctor

When fibers are broken down in the intestines, bacteria living there produce substances like short-chain fatty acids (acetic acid, propionic acid, and valeric acid) and certain vitamins (e.g., B vitamins and K vitamin). These valuable fatty acids protect the integrity of the cells lining the digestive system, providing an energy source for intestinal cells, stimulating their function and renewal. Additionally, they contribute to the proper functioning of the digestive system's immune function and participate in inhibiting inflammatory processes. So, when you consume fibers, you're not just feeding yourself; you're also nourishing your gut microbiota, making your gut health harmonious and "happy," leading to your satisfaction. That's how the story comes full circle.


👩‍⚕️👨‍⚕️ If frequent bloating, flatulence, or persistent constipation or diarrhea bother your everyday life, consult a specialist to identify the cause. Coordinate your diet with a dietitian!


At the end of the fiber series, let's summarize the essentials once more!

To maintain a healthy gut microbiota, eat a variety of fiber-rich ingredients that include different types of fibers, such as soluble and insoluble fibers! These two types of fibers encompass different sources that differ in their effects and benefits. Both types are crucial for reaping the benefits of fibers, as described earlier.


different types of food rich in fiber

If you want to eat fiber-rich, all you have to do is pay attention to selecting from our plant-based foods in a varied and balanced way. This includes a broad range of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, oily seeds, and legumes. The more variety you incorporate, the more certain you are that you're consuming enough of both types of fibers. Just don't forget to drink enough water alongside!


If you want to boost your mornings or snacks with an easily and quickly prepared, fiber-rich, and sustainably made granola, look for products made from spent grains in the webshop!


In the next part, you'll read about carbohydrates, added sugars, and glycemic index – topics that might concern not only the health-conscious but especially those living with insulin resistance.

 

Judit Schmidt is a dietitian, health educator, and workplace well-being program manager. She is engaged in prevention, education, and background work related to health, well-being, and nutrition. She conveys knowledge on nutrition, health, and well-being through article writing, blogging, editing, proofreading, and creating professional texts on these topics. Additionally, she conducts informative presentations for companies and schools. Her main focus is on disease prevention and creating a balanced and sustainable diet. Her motto is "the sunny side of food." Judit presents her profession and works in a personal, occasionally humorous style on various social media platforms under the name Youteefool.

 

Her website: www.schmidtjudit.hu

Facebook: Youteefool

Instagram: Youteefool

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