April 13, 2023
295: 7 Reasons Why Your Gut Needs Fiber for Optimal Health | Maya's Health Tip

Fiber is essential in regulating blood sugar levels, reducing cholesterol levels, and promoting a healthy weight. The consequences of not consuming enough fiber can lead to short-term digestive problems and long-term chronic ...

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Fiber is essential in regulating blood sugar levels, reducing cholesterol levels, and promoting a healthy weight. The consequences of not consuming enough fiber can lead to short-term digestive problems and long-term chronic diseases. The benefits of a high-fiber diet include improved digestion, reduced inflammation, enhanced immunity, and better mental health. A varied and thriving gut microbiome is essential for good health, and a fiber-rich diet can promote its growth.

Key Takeaways:

  • Fiber is important for overall health.
  • How to slowly add fiber-rich foods into your diet.
  • 3 Fiber-Rich recipes



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In honor of my turning seven years vegan this month, the month of April, I will highlight seven reasons why you need more fiber in your life. Fiber is essential in regulating blood sugar levels, reducing cholesterol levels and promoting a healthy weight. The consequences of not consuming enough fiber can lead to short term digestive problems, and long term chronic diseases. The benefits of a high fiber diet include improved digestion, reduce inflammation, and enhance immunity along with better mental health. A varied and thriving gut microbiome is essential for good health and if fiber rich diet can promote its growth. So today, we will discuss the seven benefits of consuming fiber and how we can incorporate more fiber into our lives. I will reference fiber fueled by Dr. Weil Bowsher wits, also known as a Dr. B, because it's one of the most comprehensive guides in the whole food plant based nutrition lifestyle. As always, additional information can be found on my blog, healthy lifestyle solutions.org forward slash blog, I keep forgetting but I have an online Amazon store and I forget to always mention it. However, it does contain books that I recommend kitchen gadgets and other foods that you might be interested in purchasing as you adopt this way of living. And my store is Maya Acosta dot store. So it's my name MAYAA CEOs ta dot store. Okay, let's get started. The average amount of fiber people consume is far less than the recommended daily intake. The American Heart Association recommends a daily fiber intake of at least 25 grams for women, and 38 grams for men. Still, most people consume only half that amount. As stated earlier, the consequences of not consuming enough fiber can be significant short term low fiber intake and lead to constipation, bloating and other digestive problems. Without enough fiber stool can become hard and difficult to pass. Leading to discomfort and potentially even serious health issues like hemorrhoids, or diverticulitis fiber is essential in regulating blood sugar levels, reducing cholesterol levels and promoting a healthy weight. These processes can be disrupted without enough fiber, increasing the risk of chronic disease in the long term low fiber intake and increase the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease type two diabetes and certain types of cancer. In addition to these health risks, low fiber intake can negatively affect the gut microbiome. Fiber is the primary food source for beneficial gut bacteria. Without enough fiber, these bacteria can starve and die off. This can lead to a less diverse and less healthy microbiome increasing the risk of health problems. This is why we're talking about fiber. Today, we'll discuss those seven benefits of incorporating fiber into your diet. But also we'll talk about how to bring those fiber rich foods into your diet to support optimal gut health and overall well being. So what is the gut microbiome? The gut microbiome is made up of trillions of micro organisms including bacteria, viruses and fungi, and other microbes that live in the large intestine, the colon and play a critical role in human health. Most of this micro organisms are bacteria, and hundreds of different species are present in the gut. However, the specific composition of the microbiome can vary widely from person to person. depending on factors such as diet, lifestyle, age and geography. Dr. B explains that the gut microbiome is a dynamic, complex ecosystem that performs various functions is essential to human health. For example, the gut microbiome helps break down food and extract nutrients, produces vital vitamins, and other compounds and plays a crucial role in immune function. The essential function of the gut microbiome its role in maintaining gut health. It acts as a protective barrier that helps prevent harmful pathogens and toxins from entering the bloodstream while regulating inflammation and other immune responses in the gut. Fiber is a preferred food source for the good bacteria in the gut. When we consume fiber rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and they Gunes the fiber is broken down into short chain fatty acids by the gut bacteria. And these short chain fatty acids fuel the cells lining the colon providing energy for the cells to function correctly. Moreover, short chain fatty acids produced from fiber fermentation have been shown to exert anti inflammatory effects, regulate blood sugar levels and promote satiety among other benefits. The beneficial effects of these short chain fatty acids on the gut extend beyond the colon to the rest of the body, including the brain and the immune system. Furthermore, Dr. B yx emphasizes that a diverse and thriving gut microbiome is essential for good health. Again, a diverse microbiome has been associated with lower levels of inflammation, reduce risk of chronic diseases and improved immune function. A fiber rich diet can promote the growth of a diverse microbiome by providing a variety of substrates for different bacteria to feed on. Therefore, Dr. B recommends consuming a diverse array of fiber rich foods to promote a healthy gut microbiome, aiming for at least 30 grams of fiber daily from various sources including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. He also recommends incorporating fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi and kefir into the diet to promote beneficial gut bacteria growth. Having said that, let's look at the seven ways that you will benefit from having a fiber rich diet. Number one benefits to digestion. One of the most significant benefits of a high fiber diet is the ability to improve digestion. Fiber adds bulk to stool and helps regulate bowel movements, preventing constipation and promoting regularity. Moreover, fiber rich foods can provide prebiotics and essential nutrients for growth and maintenance of the gut health. A healthy gut microbiome in turn can help improve digestion and reduce digestive discomfort. Number two, in addition to improving digestion, a high fiber diet can also reduce inflammation. Chronic inflammation has been linked to a range of health problems including heart disease type two diabetes, and even cancer. Fiber has been shown to have anti inflammatory effects primarily through producing those short chain fatty acids that we previously mentioned. short chain fatty acids can reduce inflammation by inhibiting the production of pro inflammatory cytokines involved in the inflammatory response. Number three boost in immunity. The gut microbiome plays a vital role in immune function. A healthy microbiome can help protect against infections and DCS. Moreover, consuming a high fiber diet can also boost immunity fiber rich foods provide prebiotics that promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut, which can enhance immune function. Number four mental health. Beyond physical health. A high fiber diet may also benefit mental health research has linked gut health and mental health with an unhealthy gut microbiome associated with an increased risk of anxiety and depression. A high fiber diet can promote a healthy gut microbiome positively impacting mental health. Again, those short chain fatty acids from the fiber fermentation have been shown to have neuroprotective effects that may even improve cognitive function. I'm also going to add a link to one of my guests Dr. Melissa mandola, who talked about how food impacts our mental health and I want you to listen to that one. Number five regulate blood sugar. Fiber can help regulate blood sugar levels, which is also important for heart health. When we eat foods high in refined carbohydrates and sugar, our blood sugar levels can spike and then crash leading to a range of adverse health effects. However, foods high in fiber such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes are digested more slowly and can help keep blood sugar levels stable. This can help prevent insulin resistance and other metabolic disorders associated with an increased risk of heart disease. If you have not checked out our Monday podcast episodes with Dr. Risks, please do so. Every Monday I provide bonus episodes and the title doctor in the house and this is really highlighting Dr. Risk as a guest expert. This week we started a conversation on type two diabetes. This is part of a four part series where we're going to be discussing nutritions role in the risk of developing type two diabetes. Number six reduced risk of heart disease.


In addition fiber can help lower cholesterol levels a key risk factor for heart disease soluble fiber in particular can bind to color trawling the gut and prevent it from being absorbed into the bloodstream. This can lead to a reduction in LDL. low density lipoprotein cholesterol, commonly called bad cholesterol, high LDL cholesterol levels are associated with an increased risk of heart disease. Number seven reduce your risk of cancer fiber may also protect against certain types of cancer. Dr. B explains that fiber can help prevent colon cancer by promoting regular bowel movements and reducing the time waste products spin in the colon. And this can reduce exposure to potentially harmful substances in the colon. Reducing cancer risk. Fiber can also provide prebiotics that promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut, which can help protect against cancer development, it is essential to know that the impact of fiber on chronic diseases is not solely due to his fiber content. fiber rich foods are also rich in other nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, which can also provide health benefits. For example, fruits and vegetables, which are an excellent source of fiber also are rich in antioxidants, which can help reduce oxidative stress and inflammation, both of which are linked to chronic diseases. So how do we increase fiber intake on a daily basis? Well, one of the main complaints that people have about switching over to a whole food plant based diet is the issue of feeling bloated or gassy, as vital to increase fiber intake gradually. To avoid digestive discomfort. Remember what I said earlier, the majority of people consume less than the recommended daily intake of fiber. So for some people, this can be a significant change, Dr. B recommends gradually incorporating fiber rich foods into the diet to reduce bloating and gas. And this is because suddenly increases in fiber intake and costs those discomforts previously mentioned, especially if the gut microbiome is not accustomed to processing large amounts of fiber Instead, start with small amounts of fiber rich foods and gradually increase intake. Choose fiber sources that are easier to digest, such as cooked vegetables and legumes rather than the raw fruits and vegetables, which can be more challenging to digest. Earlier on in my journey, I consumed a fully raw till 4pm diet and this meant that I ate nothing but papaya mangoes, bananas and similar fruits in the morning till 4pm I was dealing with tons of fruit flies regularly and my belly was bloated. This way of eating lasted only a short time because I did not eat slowly into this lifestyle. Today I can eat beans regularly and not have any discomfort whatsoever. In addition to gradually increasing fiber intake, Dr. B recommends focusing on prebiotic fibers, which are particularly beneficial for the gut microbiome. prebiotic fibers are found in garlic, onion, leeks, asparagus, bananas, and oats. And you will want to consume water regularly as fiber absorbs water and can lead to constipation if the body is dehydrated. All right. So I'm going to give you three recipes that I will also add to my blog that are fiber rich and that can get you started on this way of eating. So here are three easy meals that incorporate fiber rich foods number one quinoa and black bean salad. So you want to cook the quinoa according to the package instructions and then mix in canned black beans, chopped red bell pepper, diced avocado and a handful of fresh cilantro. I also like adding a little bit of garlic powder onion powder and a touch of cumin powder for flavor. And then you can dress the entire dish with a squeeze of lime juice. Number two sweet potato and black bean tacos. Roast your die sweet potato in the oven until tender and then you want to warm your black beans and see some with cumin chili powder and garlic powder. Then serve the sweet potato and the black beans on a corn tortilla which read it lettuce, diced tomato and a little bit of salsa. And you're going to enjoy those number three, chickpea and vegetable stir fry. So you saute your diced onion slice bell pepper and minced garlic and a pan until soften and you add some chickpeas and stir fry until they're heated. And then you see some with soy sauce and you serve over brown rice. And all of these meals are easy to make delicious and high in fiber. Thanks to the inclusion of ingredients like quinoa, black beans, sweet potatoes, chickpeas and vegetables. By incorporating more meals like these into your diet you can gradually increase your fiber intake can enjoy the many health benefits of a high fiber diet. There are also additional lifestyle recommendations making lifestyle changes such as reducing your stress levels and getting enough sleep promotes optimal gut health. also reduce your intake of processed foods, sugary drinks and alcohol which can disrupt the gut microbiome and reduce fiber intake. I recently interviewed Dr. Stephanie peacock, a renowned holistic doctor and gut health specialist, Dr. Steph shared her insights on the vital role of gut health and our overall well being, and also address issues such as SIBO and environmental toxins that can actually affect our gut. So stay tuned for this episode, as it will air soon. All right, I'm going to touch on probiotic supplements. over 15 years ago, I began to learn about probiotics. From that point on, I actually believed that probiotics were the missing link to disease prevention. And today, I realized how much I still do not know about this topic, which is why I wanted to include it. In his book fiber field, Dr. B acknowledges that probiotics can benefit some people. Still, he cautions against relying solely on probiotic supplements to improve gut health. Instead, he emphasizes the importance of a fiber rich diet to feed and support the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. Dr. B notes that while some probiotic supplements are effective for specific health conditions, there is still much to learn about the complexity of the gut microbiome and the role that the particular strains of bacteria play in promoting health. He suggests that more research is needed to understand better how different strains of bacteria interact with one another and with the host. Furthermore, Dr. B warns that the FDA does not regulate probiotic supplements like drugs are and that the quality and the purity of the products can vary widely. Some probiotic supplements may not contain the strains or the quantities of bacteria advertised on the label, and some may even be contaminated with harmful bacteria. Instead of relying solely on probiotic supplements. Dr. B recommends focusing on feeding and supporting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria through fiber rich diet that includes a variety of plant based foods like we already talked about. And this can help to create a diverse and thriving microbiome, which in turn, can promote optimal gut health and overall well being. I also became more convinced to no longer take probiotics after the podcaster rich role, had a couple of scientists on his show again, reiterating that the probiotics industry is unregulated and that more research is needed. Okay, my friends. In conclusion, fiber is an essential nutrient crucial in maintaining good health, especially in regulating blood sugar levels, reducing cholesterol levels, and promoting a healthy weight, low fiber intake and need to short term digestive problems and long term chronic diseases. We need fiber in our lives. A high fiber diet includes improved digestion, reduce inflammation, enhance immunity, and better mental health. A varied and thriving gut microbiome is essential for good health, and a fiber rich diet can promote its growth. Therefore, it's crucial to incorporate fiber rich foods into our daily diets and aim for at least 30 grams of fiber daily. From varied sources. Eating fiber rich foods, and incorporating fermented foods can promote a healthy gut microbiome leading to better overall health and well being. So let me know how you're incorporating more fiber into your diet. Leave some comments or even go to my speakpipe.com forward slash H L S. That's the website where you can leave me a voicemail and tell me how this way of living is working out for you. All right, my friends. Thank you so much for tuning in. As always, thank you for being a listener. And have a great weekend.

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Maya Acosta

Maya Acosta is a health and wellness educator, podcaster, and content creator from Dallas, Texas, advocating for whole-food, plant-based living. As co-leader of the Plant-Based DFW Pod, she educates the public on healthy living through various initiatives such as lectures, potlucks, and walks with the doc. Maya hosts the Healthy Lifestyle Solutions podcast and is a member of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine's Women's Health Interest Group. She promotes female health and covers pregnancy, thyroid issues, menopause, and more.

Maya serves as a Pod Action Committee member for PlantPure Communities, creating courses to teach other leaders how to share their messages and support their communities online. Her dedication to health outreach is evident through her involvement in various initiatives such as lectures, potlucks, documentary screenings, and walks with the doc. As a content creator, Maya covers events and makes cooking videos for social media and YouTube.

Maya's passion for helping women take control of their health has become her "ikigai," meaning her life purpose. Maya's dedication to promoting a healthy lifestyle and empowering women to take control of their health is truly inspiring.