Your gut holds the key to optimal health. This is because the majority of the TRILLIONS of microbes and bacteria that reside in your body, live in your gut, with the highest concentration being in your colon. To give you an idea of how important these little guys are, we have 10 x more microbes in our body than we do human DNA cells. Effectively making us more microbial than we are human! Weird but fascinating, right?!
These microbes and bacteria ferment the food we consume, and create chemicals that either lead to health or disease. When our microbes and bacteria consume whole food fiber aka complex carbs, they produce short chain fatty acids. One important one, being Butyrate. They are like rocket fuel for every system in your body! Especially your immune system. When they consume animal products, especially in large amounts with low amounts of whole food fiber, then chemicals that create inflammation are produced, and the inflammation doesn’t subside for up to 36 hours. This imbalance in whole food fiber intake, is what has left America in a hyper-inflammatory state leading to diseases that have inflammation as a basis. To name a few, cancer, heart disease etc.
In one of my favorite books, “The Good Gut”, written by microbiologists Erica and Justin Sonnenburg, researchers look deep into the role that nutrition and bacteria play. One question that they have found much of the answer to, is the rapid increase in Americas killer disease, and the development of auto-immune disease. What they found was that 100 years ago, and even now in parts of the world that are less developed, there was low to no onset of cancer, heart disease and auto-immune disease. This is because 100 years ago, we were eating anywhere between 100-120 grams of whole food fiber per day. Through the past 100 years, processed foods, low carb diets and the “we need all the protein” mentality, have dropped the average American consumption of whole food fiber, down to 10-15 grams per day! We are starving the bacteria in our colon, because whole food fiber/complex carbohydrates are what they NEED for survival. Coincidentally, the lining of our gut is made up of a thick, sticky substance that is composed of complex carbohydrates. Well our poor starving bacteria resorts to eating this lining, which causes dry patches in the lining of our gut. The Sonnenburg’s mention in their research, that this leads to bacteria penetrating the lining of our gut, and in addition to causing inflammation in the lining of our gut (think IBS, chrons), it alerts our immune cells that there is a possible enemy invasion. When certain bacteria and cells aren’t where they’re supposed to be, they send in the troops to attack. To our immune cells, these actually harmless cells and bacteria that naturally reside in our body, are wearing ski masks and are unrecognizable to the immune cells. This is where auto-immune disease comes in. Auto-immune disease IS our own immune cells attacking our own harmless cells and bacteria. Mind. Blown. At least mine was!
So what’s the take away here? Strive to eat as much whole plant fiber as you can! 100 grams sounds like a lot, but there are ways to meet this quota without having to eat a few cans of beans per day, and an entire box of oatmeal. Bean burgers, flax muffins, oatmeal bakes, hummus, and my favorite, BLACK BEAN BROWNIESSSSS, are a great way to easily meet requirements without feeling like you’re going to explode fiber out of your eyes. Lastly, if you’re thinking to yourself, “why can’t I just take a fiber supplement?”. I mentioned earlier that the majority of our gut bacteria, that starves the most, is in our colon. Fiber supplements are digested by the acid in our stomach way before they can ever reach where it’s necessary. So think beans, whole grains, veggies, and other whole plant foods. Your body will thank you with large amounts of energy and happiness, maybe a little gas if you’re just starting out! But a couple days or weeks of gas vs. a lifetime of illness is a no brainer for me!
If you don’t know where to start and you don’t enjoy cooking, check out some of our prepared meals. If you do like cooking and want to know more, we have plenty of recipes to choose from, and there are many resources and oages that will help. Some of my favorite social media communities are Eat Plants Love, Forks Over Knives and Thug Kitchen!
Happy eating friends!