It’s safe to say gut health, and all the probiotic powerhouses that can boost it, stole the nutrition spotlight this year. Not only can you buy artisanal sauerkraut and switchel, but you can also get your probiotics in a breakfast burrito now.
However, with all the focus on ways to sneak microbe-feeding foods into our diets, we may be ignoring a simpler ingredient for a healthy gut: fiber. Recent research shows since our gut microbes feed off fiber, skimping on it is impacting our microbiome big time, The Atlantic reports.
In the study, mice that were put on a low-fiber diet experienced a significant drop in the number of microbe species present in their guts. Even more concerning is that when they started eating more fiber, some of the microbes never repopulated.
Since pups often pick up their parents’ microbes from, yes, eating their poop, the diversity dwindled with each passing generation. And every time, it becomes harder and harder to reverse the changes.
Why does this matter to us? Throughout human history, our guts have gone through similar changes. Western city-dwellers have less diverse guts than our hunter-gatherer ancestors, who overall ate more fibrous plants. And an unhealthy gut has been connected to a slew of health problems, including chronic inflammation, inflammatory bowel disease, and obesity.
While more research needs to be done to figure out to what extent gut issues and fiber-related health problems are connected, experts say you probably aren’t eating enough fiber anyway. Here’s how to get more in your diet, fast. —Amy Marturana
(Photo: Foodies Feed)
Once you’re fixed on fiber, take a look at your favorite foods—there a lot of new gut-friendly alternatives out there.