Eat Fibre, Poop, Feel Great

Aging gracefully is something we all want to do and having a well-rounded nutrition plan that includes adequate fibre intake is essential for that to happen. We are living in a fibre deficient world as processed foods are very low in fibre.

There are three forms of macronutrients, protein, fat and carbohydrates. Fibre falls under the carbohydrate umbrella but it is much different than our typical ‘carbs.’ Fibre is a form of indigestible carbohydrate. We cannot digest it because we do not produce the necessary enzymes to breakdown the bonds (beta) found in fibre.

Two types of fibre exist, soluble and insoluble. Soluble fibre attracts water and turns into a gel, it can be found in nuts, vegetables, legumes and grains. There is also insoluble fibre, which doesn’t dissolve in water and is found in vegetables, whole grains and seeds.

Benefits of eating enough fibre:

As mentioned, we do not produce the enzymes necessary to breakdown fibre, this allows fibre to enter the large intestine intact. Once fibre enters the large intestine our good bacteria feed on it, making them strong and healthy. We want to feed our good bacteria as they prevent bad bacteria from taking over our intestinal system. Having a healthy bacterial balance in our gut is extremely important. Many studies have been published showing the numerous benefits of having more good bacteria then bad. For example, having a disrupted bacterial balance (dysbiosis) can change gene expression in the brain.[2]

Our intestinal bacteria also help to synthesize vitamins for us (vitamin B2, B5, B6, Bitotin and vitamin K).[1] These vitamins allow our bodies to do a lot of important work for us. For example, vitamins B2 and B5 play an integral role in the production of ATP (energy), without them we wouldn’t be able to function day to day.

Fibre also does a couple of other really important jobs for us. Fibre acts as a bulking agent in our gut, allowing us to pass stools easily. If you want to have a good poop you need to be eating enough fibre. If we do not have enough fibre our intestines cannot grip onto our stool and move it along easily, this is why fibre is so important to help us avoid constipation. The more bulked up our stool is, the easier it becomes for our intestines to move it along for timely elimination.

Fibre allows us to avoid constipation and this is really important because the whole reason we poop is to get rid of toxins and things we do not need/want in our system anymore. If we do not poop on a timely basis (ideally 2-3 times a day) our stool sit in our intestines a long time allowing the reabsorption of some toxins and other substances. This can then place a high excess burden on our system since we are putting more toxins in while not getting enough out. This can lead to many significant health issues.[3]

Having a toxic build up generally manifests in one of the following issues:[3]

Fatigue
Nervousness
Gastrointestinal conditions
Malabsorption of nutrients
Skin manifestations
Endocrine disruptions
Neurocirculatory abnormalities
Headaches
Arthritis
Low-back Pain
Sciatica
Allergies
Asthma
Cardiac irregularities
Pathological changes in the breast

There are more, these are the most common.

Ensure you’re eating enough fibre:

Eating fibre is important for our short term and long term health. We recommend trying to consume 30g of fibre or more each day. To put that in perspective the Hadza tribe in Tanzania eats between 100-300g of fibre a day![4] If they can eat that much then 30g of fibre should be totally doable for us.

In order to ensure you’re eating enough fibre it is necessary to eat whole foods as much as possible. Some of the best sources of fibre are whole grains and legumes. To decrease their anti-nutrient content soak and/or sprout them before consumption.

Eating vegetables and fruits raw keeps their fibre intact; as you cook them the fibre begins to degrade. The longer they are cooked the less fibre is remaining. A good general rule is to try to have a raw fruit or vegetable raw at every meal.

Below are eight great fibre rich foods, try to integrate them and other into your day to day nutrition.

Conclusion:

There are many benefits to getting enough fibre in your nutritional intake. The two major ones are supporting a healthy gut flora and to regularly eliminate toxins from the bowel. If we are not pooping a couple times a day then we definitely need more fibre and probably water as well. Both of these will have big benefits on health and well-being.

References:

  1. Hill, M J. (1997). Intestinal flora and endogenous vitamin synthesis. European Journal of Cancer Prevention.
  2. Hoban, A. E.,et al. (2016). Regulation of prefrontal cortex myelination by the microbiota.Translational Psychiatry
  3. Dr. Jensen’s Guide to Better Bowel Care. By: Dr. Bernard Jensen
  4. In Search of the Perfect Gut Microbiome with a Tribe of Tanzanian Hunter-Gathers. Motherboard. Motherboard.vice.com