You know that fresh fruits and vegetables are good for you, but when you feed yourself you’re also feeding trillions of guests. These “guests” are the bacteria (aka microbiota, or tummy bugs) that inhabit your intestines. And according to Justin Sonnenburg, PhD, Assistant Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at Stanford School of Medicine, diet is one of the most powerful impacts on gut microbiota, who feed on fiber-rich carbohydrates found in whole plant foods.
Why would you want to treat your tummy bugs as honored guests?
Because we have an age-old deal with these guys. We provide them with food and a warm place to live; they help us to digest and absorb food, to synthesize vitamins, to produce amino acids, to secrete mucus, to prevent constipation by increasing motility, to create food for intestinal cells, and, perhaps most importantly, to partner with our immune system (more than 2/3 of which is located in the intestines) by degrading toxins and competing with and killing off infectious bacteria and yeasts.
As Sonnenburg, who made a recent presentation on microbiota at the Annual Nutrition and Health Conference held in Dallas in May 2014, is quoted as saying in a recent article in Environmental Nutrition, “There is no aspect of human biology that doesn’t get touched in some way by the microbiota...We have gut microbes controlling so many aspects of biology to prevent disease.”
It’s nice to see conventional medicine finally validating the importance of the good tummy bugs...better late than never! Because these very bugs, so vital to our health, are destroyed by conventional medicine’s cherished antibiotic medications, they were discounted for many years.
But now, mainstream scientists like Sonnenburg are exhorting us to take good care of them. “Many of us aren’t eating much dietary fiber,” he says. “Increased fiber leads to increased microbiota diversity, output, and numbers and vice versa; lower fiber intake leads to lower diversity, output and numbers.”
Nutritional authorities currently recommend from 20-35 grams of fiber a day; the average American gets only about half of that. Raymond Francis believes traditional societies got 40-60 grams daily. To check on how much fiber you’re getting daily see our Fiber Sources chart. If you’re not getting enough fiber, supplement with Beyond Health’s Dietary Fiber Formula.
Meanwhile, keep chomping on those carrots and other fiber-rich foods! One of our customers complained that her jaw hurt from so much chewing since she adopted a healthier diet. If that’s a problem for you, toss your fruits and vegetables in a VitaMix high-speed blender. Unlike juicers, blenders preserve fiber.