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Image courtesy of Rachel Barrett
Editor's Note: Did you know that in the United States alone, 60% of the population is dealing with at least one symptom of digestive dysfunction like:
Impaired digestive health leads to serious health problems like:
- mood issues
- cardiovascular disease
- brain fog
- joint pain
- thyroid disorders
- adrenal and blood sugar problems
- and more
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Watch the trailer for this event below and then sign up below:
We all know the discomfort that can result from the a poorly digested meal. However, more and more people suffer from digestive issues that can have long-term and persistent symptoms like heartburn, irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhea, constipation, gas and bloating. These conditions, left unchecked, can weaken our immune systems and interrupt our overall health and well-being.
One of factors behind chronic digestive difficulty is an imbalanced gut microbiome resulting from insufficient dietary fiber intake. Paradoxically, once these chronic conditions have been triggered, dietary fiber can exacerbate them. By incorporating more high fiber fruits and vegetables into your daily diet you can improve your digestion, heal your gut, and support your immune system before a chronic condition develops.
Before we look at a few of the best sources of dietary fiber, let's first shine some light on the wonderful ecology of gut microbiome!
The human microbiome is defined as:
“The ecological community of commensal, symbiotic, and pathogenic microorganisms that literally share our body space.”
The microbiome is essentially 3 pounds of friendly bacteria that reside in our gut, known as probiotics, that determine to a large extent which nutrients are absorbed and which toxins, allergens, and microbes are kept out. This process has a direct impact on the condition and function of our immune system and, when working properly, allows for optimal digestion, absorption, and assimilation of food. To put it simply, good bacteria makes a home in your gastrointestinal tract and keeps the bad bacteria and yeast out. We therefore want to directly support our guts on a daily basis by improving the environment for friendly bacteria to exist and multiply, which in turn benefits digestive function and overall wellbeing.
Inulin: The best way to care for your microbiome is to feed it!
Just like us, the population of our gut microbiome needs nourishment, a primary form which is inulin.
Inulin is a natural storage carbohydrate and is used by plants for reserving energy as well as regulating cold resistance. It is present in more than 36,000 species of plants including: artichokes, leaks, onion, bananas, garlic, asparagus, chicory root, and sugar beets.
Otherwise known as a prebiotic, inulin serves as food for beneficial bacteria, and when these beneficial bacteria are well-fed, the population increases and we reap the rewards.
Image courtesy of Rachel Barrett
American adults eat on average between 14-15 grams of fiber per day, far below the recommended 25 grams per day for women and 38 grams per day for men. These recommended amounts are actually a minimum. Many traditional societies are known to consume closer to 75-100 grams per day and suffer little to no colon cancer, constipation, irritable bowel syndromes, and other digestive disorders.
What are some of the benefits associated with fiber intake?
It is actually easy to increase the amount of fiber you consume daily if you know what to shop for, prepare, and enjoy!
Eat a variety of the following fruits and vegetables below at every meal, aiming for a minimum of 25 grams of fiber per day for women and 38 grams per day for men. This will ensure you are caring for your microbiome, your digestive system and your overall health.
Note: Beans and rice should be soaked overnight prior to cooking to improve digestion and nutrient absorption.
Start Your Day Off Right!
I love starting of my day with fiber-rich smoothie. Here is one of my favorites because it's super creamy, full of healthy greens and just sweet enough!
- ¼ can coconut milk (approx. ½ cup)
- ½ avocado
- handful of spinach
- handful of baby kale
- ½ cucumber
- ½ banana
- handful of frozen blueberries
Roz Pope-Meyer is a Nutritional Therapist certified through Nutritional Therapy Association and holds a BFA in Dance and a Master's degree in Education and Obesity Prevention.
Roz loves to help people feel their best and is truly passionate about food, fitness and family. She supports traditional food preparation, soil-regenerating food production, and food system transparency.