Studies show an association between a higher fibre intake and a decreased incidence of irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease (i.e. Crohn’s & Ulcerative Colitis), cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and colon cancer – to name just a few health conditions. Fibre is a powerful natural anti-inflammatory.
Short chain fatty acids are one of the most powerful anti-inflammatory substances in your body – conveniently produced in your own bowel – IF conditions are right. They are a by-product of good gut bacteria breaking down fibre in your bowel, so if you are not eating enough roughage, you will not be generating enough of this potentially life-saving (or at least life-changing) substance. Fibre is what our helpful gut bacteria eat – it is their food source – everything that we can’t digest in our small intestine. Different gut bugs thrive on different types of fibre – so DIVERSITY is key, & REGULAR intake is key (to making your colon a nice hospitable place for loads of good bugs to survive & thrive & pump out plenty of SCFA’s to circulate through our bodies).
Is a SCFA deficiency at the root of (or at least significantly contributing to) many of our modern western diseases? I have a strong gut feeling it is…in combination with the following gut imbalancing factors:
- Caesarian birth & lack of breastfeeding (promotes wrong gut bacterial balance from the get-go)
- Overuse of antibiotics for the past 50 years (both in our factory-farmed livestock & directly prescribed for every cough, cold, flu or infection).
- Other pharmaceutical medications (bacteria can be super-sensitive to many of the chemicals we swallow)
- Hyper-sanitation of our environment – “kills 99.9 percent of bacteria on your hands / bench / floor” might sound impressive if you think of bacteria as the enemy…trouble is, most of them are not the enemy. Kids growing up with more exposure to dirt, dust & animals are much healthier. Put down that mop & let the dog inside! Get a garden started & don’t be too fussy about rinsing before you eat the organic veggies – plants & soil have their own microbial populations, dirt has even been called the new superfood!
- Chemicals in our food chain (both agricultural chemicals & artificial preservatives, sweeteners, colours, flavours, thickeners & emulsifiers added to processed foods).
- Overconsumption of sugars & refined carbohydrates (too much food for some of our ‘bad’ gut microbes)
- Stress (there is a massive connection between gut bugs & neurotransmitters – it works both ways too)
Put it to the test yourself !
Try a 3 month ‘focus on fibre’ experiment with yourself & just observe the changes. Many people will notice weight loss as a bonus, but also great to monitor your blood sugar, your lipids / cholesterol & your energy, aches / pains, sleep quality & mood. Feed the microbes & you can see huge changes in the way your body works. A healthy gut ecosystem really is one of the foundations of great health.
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