Why Fiber (Fruits and Veggies) is Good for You

A recent NY Times piece provides a summary of recent studies in mice which show that a low fiber diet promotes inflammation throughout the body and results in changes in the microbiome: Fiber is Good For You. Now Scientists May Know Why

An excerpt:

A diet of fiber-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables, reduces the risk of developing diabetesheart disease and arthritis. Indeed, the evidence for fiber’s benefits extends beyond any particular ailment: Eating more fiber seems to lower people’s mortality rate, whatever the cause…

The ability of these bacteria to survive on fiber we can’t digest ourselves has led many experts to wonder if the microbes are somehow involved in the benefits of the fruits-and-vegetables diet. Two detailed studies published recently in the journal Cell Host and Microbe provide compelling evidence that the answer is yes.

In one experiment, Andrew T. Gewirtz of Georgia State University and his colleagues put mice on a low-fiber, high-fat diet… the scientists were able to estimate the size of the gut bacterial population in each mouse. On a low-fiber diet, they found, the population crashed, shrinking tenfold.

Dr. Bäckhed and his colleagues carried out a similar experiment, surveying the microbiome in mice as they were switched from fiber-rich food to a low-fiber diet…Along with changes to the microbiome, both teams also observed rapid changes to the mice themselves. Their intestines got smaller, and its mucus layer thinner. As a result, bacteria wound up much closer to the intestinal wall, and that encroachment triggered an immune reaction…

“It points to the boring thing that we all know but no one does,” Dr. Bäckhed said. “If you eat more green veggies and less fries and sweets, you’ll probably be better off in the long term.”

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3 thoughts on “Why Fiber (Fruits and Veggies) is Good for You

  1. GI’s who deal with IBD often talk about Mucosal Healing. I assume that is the same mucus layer that is reference here. Do you see any connections? Is it possible that drugs such as biologics stop underlying tissue inflammation but another process needs to take place for the mucus layer to recover?

    • Mucosal healing does not really refer to the mucus layer –it means that the GI tissues have healed -no inflammation. What’s going on in the mucus layer may play a role in that process, though. I think when one has healing with a biologic agent, it is likely that the mucus layer is improved as well.

  2. Pingback: Big Data for Personalized Diets | gutsandgrowth

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