Probiotics and prebiotics sound really cool and interesting. They may also improve the bacterial population in your gut.
And that matters.
Gut health obviously plays a role in digestion and overall digestive system function. But it goes deeper than that. Your microbial population – the microbiome – may also play a role in inflammation, chronic illness, disease risk, mood, heart health, and more.
Often overlooked in all of this is fiber. Fiber doesn’t have a cool name. It’s not particularly sexy either. Nor should it be – it’s essentially fodder for your microbiome. It’s the stuff in the food you don’t digest; it’s thrown away and fed to the trillions of bacteria residing in your gut.
But it helps them stay healthy and do a really good job.
Fiber not only promotes a healthy microbiome by acting as a prebiotic, but it’s also long been associated with better digestion and regular, high-quality bowel movements.
More recently, it’s been shown to have major influences on heart health and cholesterol.
It might be one of the most important things you can eat.
Yet Americans don’t get much of it all. The reason is that it’s not really in the things that make up the Standard American diet. It’s not in white bread, white rice, meat, or sugary snacks.
Fiber is in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes, and nuts. But if you eat the recommended servings of those things each day, you’ll certainly hit the 28-35 gram per day target.
Most Americans get about half of that.
So, next time you’re at the grocery store and you’re loading a case of probiotic yogurt into your cart, ask yourself what will feed those organisms. Then head over to the produce section and load up on fibrous fruits and vegetables.
Your gut will thank you for it by likely improving your health.