Most of us understand that getting more fiber is important for our health. We know it keeps us "regular." Bonus points if you know the difference between soluble and non-soluble fiber.
No shame though if the details about fiber are mysterious and overwhelming. It’s a lot!
We're here to make it easy. Bottom line:
- Dietary fiber is important for robust gut health.
- Robust gut health is essential for our overall wellbeing.
- It doesn't have to be overly complicated. Simply adding more and different types of fresh fruits and vegetables is a good way to start. Complementing our diets with fiber-rich Perennial Daily Gut & Brain adds some creamy deliciousness to the equation.
Soluble v Insoluble Fiber
What's the difference between soluble and insoluble fiber? Before you get caught up in the differences, just know that:
- most plants contain both soluble and insoluble fiber AND
- our bodies need both to thrive
- Dissolves in water
- Has plant pectin and gums
- Has been shown to reduce cholesterol and blood sugar (may reduce diabetes in some people)
- Think black beans, Brussels sprouts, avocados, sweet potatoes, and pears
- Doesn't dissolve in water
- Draws water into stool, thereby helping some of us stay "regular"
- Beneficial for bowel health and digestion
- Think whole oats, whole-wheat pasta, nuts, beans, cauliflower, and raspberries
How Much is Enough Fiber?
97% of Americans do not get enough fiber. Those of us Greater than 50 really should aim to get 25-30 grams of fiber every day. Meeting these benchmarks means making fiber a front-of-mind priority. A plant-based diet can help. For overall fiber intake, these are good food sources:
- A cup of chickpeas – 35 grams!
- A cup of lentils – 15.5 grams
- A cup of boiled peas – 9 grams
- A cup of raspberries – 8 grams
- A cup of cooked whole wheat pasta – 6 grams
A Word About Gut Health
Our gut contains 70% of our immune system! Read that again because it's super-important...70%! And, our gut contains TEN TIMES more health determining bacteria than the rest of our body. If there's one thing you can do right now to improve health outcomes as you age, it would be to consumer more fiber.
Happy Guts Rely On Prebiotic and Probiotic Fiber
Maintaining a healthy gut is important at all ages, but even more important for those of us Greater than 50.
Let's start with some terminology.
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that live in our guts. If we don't have enough of them, we can get them by consuming probiotic-rich foods like kombucha, pickled vegetables, sauerkraut, and tempeh. Probiotics are important helpers. You may want to give them names and thank them for their service. Because they are living beings, they get hungry. If you are a nice host, you will feed them.
Prebiotic fiber is food for our probiotics. All prebiotics are fiber, but not all fibers are prebiotic. When we consume prebiotic fiber, our probiotics are satiated. Satiated probiotics reproduce. That means more mighty microbes! More mighty microbes create a stronger mucus barrier, which in turn reduces inflammation throughout our body. As a bonus, some prebiotic fiber also helps our body to absorb minerals, like calcium and iron. That means bones are happy and healthy, too. Prebiotic-rich foods include bananas, garlic, chickpeas, apples, onions, and leeks. What’s tricky is making sure we reach the optimal daily goal of 25-30 grams of fiber — 97% of Americans don’t get the adequate amount.
So, the amount of prebiotic fiber we consumer is important, but so is the diversity of that fiber—we want to ensure it comes from a variety of sources, as each fiber causes different healthy probiotics to flourish in the gut. Indeed, plant-based fiber combinations together can strengthen the diverse species of bacteria (i.e. biota) found in our gut.
Think of your intestines as a beautiful and lush rainforest bursting with a colorful array of plants and animals. Over time, practices like overharvesting wood, hunting endangered animals, or degrading the land can drastically reduce the amount of diversity in the forest. Some species simply disappear. Similarly, many factors reduce the diversity of our gut biota (e.g. antibiotics, modern clinical practices, sanitation), but prebiotic fiber found in carbs, such as chicory root inulin and Jerusalem artichoke are the only nutrients empirically proven to help improve gut biota diversity.[i]
Combining the everyday fiber-rich foods we love with concentrated prebiotic fiber sources (i.e supplementation) can help ensure we meet our overall daily fiber goals, while specifically targeting prebiotic fiber. Luckily there are ways to increase our fiber intake easily, deliciously, and effectively, like plant-based Perennial Daily Gut & Brain nutrition drink (comes in delicious vanilla and chocolate flavor).
Perennial Daily Gut & Brain contains a unique prebiotic fiber called FOS (fructo-oligosaccharide). This super-fiber is so good for you that you would have to consume 15 onions and 22 bananas, just to equal the same amount as in one serving of Perennial. .
Every Day is Different
Our gut habitat also known as our “biome” changes over the years, by season, by day, even by meal. “Consistent diversity” may sound like an oxymoron, but it really isn’t. Meal by meal, day by day, we want to be sure we consistently are consuming a diverse mix of fiber-rich foods, particularly those rich in prebiotic fiber.
[i] Sonnenburg, E.D. et al. (2016) Diet-induced extinctions in the gut microbiota compound over generations. Nature 529, 212-934.