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While we all know that dietary fiber is good for heart health, new research is shedding new light on the benefits of fiber.
First of all, let’s compare the amount of fiber we eat today to what the hunter-gatherers ate: (1)
Hunter-gatherers – 100g of fiber per day
Average American – 10-20g of dietary fiber per day
US Dietary Reference Intake – 25-38g of dietary fiber per day
You can see that even if you are trying to boost your fiber intake you might have a difficult time reaching the hunter-gatherer doses of fiber each day.
Fiber has some very cool benefits, such as:
- Scrubbing the gut of excess mucus and toxins
- Attaching to toxin-carrying bile and escorting it to the toilet
- Providing food for the good bugs that proliferate in the intestines
While the research on building healthy and diverse strains of bacteria is still in its very early stages, fiber seems to be one strategy to do so that most experts agree on.
A recent NPR report stated that, if you do not get enough fiber, your beneficial bacteria will starve. Then they will be forced to eat us! They start with the protective mucus lining of the intestinal tract – the mucus layer that provides a home for the good microbes, as well as supports up to 80% of our immunity. (2)
Vegetables like garlic and leeks contain high levels of a type of fiber called inulin, which feeds actinobacteria in our guts. In fact, inulin is considered a prebiotic, since it feeds the good bacteria that live inside us.
Garlic also has anti-bug properties, which, paradoxically, could also be a good thing for our good microbes. One study shows that garlic hurts some of the bad bacteria in our gut while leaving the good bacteria intact. (2)
Research on fermented foods is still underway, but they have long been considered an effective way to support a healthy microbiome.
Bottom line: if you can achieve a fiber intake of 50 grams per day or more, experts predict you will experience a healthy difference. (2)
How to Get 50 Grams of Dietary Fiber Per Day
If you ate a cup of cooked greens with each meal (3 meals a day), that would bring you to about 25 grams. By eating a diet rich in other seasonal vegetables, whole grains, legumes (1 cup of cooked kidney beans packs an average of 19.4 grams of fiber!), moderate amounts of seasonal fruits, nuts and seeds, you would likely reach the 50 grams quite effortlessly.
- Lieberman D. The Story of the Human Body. Pantheon. 2NY. 2013. p224 2. NPR.org. Can We Eat Our Way To A Healthier Microbiome? It’s Complicated. MAANVI SINGH. November 08, 2013 4:17 PM