The produce section of your grocery store might look quite tempting, but it represents just a part of the edible, healthy and delicious plant foods which are available. It is known that there are more than 20000 species of edible plants and we can actually have just 20-50 of these. Thus, it might be one of the reasons for the declining health of the westerners. Our gut microbiome or gut bacteria is said to be the foundation of our health. Our gut bacteria are dependent on the different types of vegetables we consume daily
Centuries earlier, humans are known to harvest nuts, seeds and wild fruits which generally vary according to the seasons. People would dig underground in search of stems and roots. Studies on the Hadza people of Tanzania (last of the hunter gatherer population on the planet) reveal such details on microbiome and health.
The Hadza community is known to have the most diverse gut microbiomes. Americans are known to have the worst. Research reveals that Hadza gut microbiome diversity is 40% higher than any average person of the USA.
Americans are known to consume around 15 grams of fiber per day. Most of this fiber comes from grains. According to the American Heart Association an individual need to have 25 to 35 grams of fiber in a day. A few microbiome authors recommend even higher amounts — which is around 40 grams of fiber in a day.
In comparison, the Hadza community is known to consume around 100 -150 grams of fiber per day. The average Hadza person eats around 600 species of plants which vary according to the season.
These people do not suffer from any of the diseases, which an average American struggle with which includes cancer, autoimmune disease, diabetes and obesity.
Studies reveal that fiber reduces the risk of heart diseases. It binds with the bad cholesterol and removes it from the body. A diet which is rich in fiber helps to lower high blood pressure and thus the risk of stroke.
The kind of fiber you are consuming has a role as well. Gut bacteria needs ‘prebiotic’ fibers which are mixed with a variety of produce. Prebiotic fibers are known to feed the healthy bacteria present in the gut, which helps in improving the overall health. All vegetables are wonderful sources of prebiotics – these include:
- Jerusalem artichokes
- Dandelion greens
Prebiotic fibers are helpful as they help in regulating the bowel. They also help in changing the composition of gut microbiome in the right direction. They play a major role in improving the absorption rate of different minerals, they help in strengthening the intestinal walls, they help in reduction of anxiety, they produce hormones which help to control appetite and also help by offering protection against some chronic diseases.
In case you are not used to having high quantity of plant food which is rich in fiber, you shouldn’t increase the consumption overnight. Your gut might find it difficult to adjust, which can lead to gas, bloating, pain, diarrhea and constipation. Our digestive system and the gut needs time to adapt and digest huge quantity of fiber. You can slowly increase the consumption of giber by 1 or 2 grams in a day. Your system might need many days to slowly adjust.
Legumes and beans are rich in fiber. It often gets quite tempting to include them in the diet. If you feel you can easily digest them, then include them in your diet. However, several people are not able to tolerate lectins in legumes. Legumes often lead to autoimmune flare-ups and cause inflammation. Those who have problems related to SIBO or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, might also face severe digestive issues along with inflammatory responses.
Also, a few people need to keep away from nightshade vegetables as they trigger inflammation, especially those who suffer from arthritis. Such vegetables include eggplant and potatoes. However, this doesn’t include sweet potatoes or even yams. Other vegetables include peppers, fresh tomatoes, tomatillos, cayenne or Tabasco, etc., and various pepper-based spices.
Simply keeping away certain nightshade vegetables from diet is known to bring relief from conditions of joint pain, especially in case of those who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis.
Lastly, many people suffer from gut or immune disorders which means a high-fiber diet is inappropriate until the conditions are resolved. Ask me to know more about high fiber diet and how it can make you uncomfortable.
How is a high fiber paleo diet?
Many people who have conditions related to autoimmune disorders or suffer from chronic inflammatory conditions, a high fiber diet is considered to be quite helpful. It helps in eliminating legumes and grains. Since legumes and grains are rich in high fiber, how is the fiber rich paleo diet?
The suggested produce consumption is around 7-10 servings in a day. This might appear to be quite a lot, but a serving is usually half-cup of chopped vegetables or just a cup of fresh leafy greens. Sugary foods can be quite inflammatory. Select fruits and vegetables which are low in sugar or ones which will not destabilize the blood sugar.
You can try at least 3-4 servings of fresh produce in every meal. This will be of 1.5 to 2 cups of freshly chopped vegetables or at least 3 cups fresh leafy vegetables. You can break this up to 5 meals, if you have more, so that your blood sugar stabilizes.
Ask my office to know about more ways to support your gut microbiome.