Many of us consider a change to our diet, health and lifestyle with the start of a New Year.
Whether you go vegan or vegetarian or just change to a healthier diet, our bodies will be subject to a higher intake of fibre from a higher plant based diet.
Fibre provides so many benefits to the health of our GI Tract (the gut) but let’s go a little deeper.
Fibre is a complex carbohydrate. Locked into these plant structures is an abundance of vitamins, minerals, polyphenols (antioxidants) , amino acids (the building block of protein), and complex sugars to yield energy from the carbs.
Fibre cannot be broken down by our bodies, and we are therefore dependent on the bacteria in out gut to do the job. Don’t forget; the largest animals that live and have lived on earth feed on plants. However they too must have a gut full of healthy bacteria to breakdown fibre to survive.
The kingdom of the microbiome in our gut has one hundred trillion bacteria. Besides the multiple other roles that our little friends undertake, the breakdown of fibre, releasing all that amazing goodness to be absorbed by our bodies is a primary function.
Everyone’s microbiome is different, just like a fingerprint, it’s unique to you.
For good food and bad food, the bacterial colonies in your gut have adapted to the diet we regularly consume or grown up with.
So a substantial change in diet may have an impact on how we feel…. so go slowly.
For example if your diet consists of many simple carbs: sugar, sweet drinks, white bread, pizzas, pasta, white potatoes, chips etc., any nutritional value will have been broken down by the stomach and small intestines long before they reach the large intestine (colon) where the majority of bacteria reside.
As a result your microbiome will be weak and have less diverse colonies to breakdown any new higher fibre regime.
The result is that many people making a drastic change to what they think is a more healthy diet suffer especially from a lack of energy and nutrient imbalance. They need to give some time to adapt.
It’s therefore important to change over slowly. Your microbiome needs to recolonise and develop.
Make sure you add probiotics to your daily diet by consuming some fermented foods on a daily basis containing live cultures.
Taking a probiotic supplement may also help boost the diversity of your gut colonies.
However beware of label claims. I'm currently looking at a famous leading brand claiming 3 billion colonies per capsule.
Wow ! But I don't have a calculator with enough zeros to work our what percentage 3 billion is, amongst a population of 100 trillion bacteria in your gut. Its just insignificant so my advice is to stay raw.
It’s also important to incorporate prebiotics into your diet.
I find a homemade smoothie fantastic but NOT a supermarket fruit drink full of sugar.
My favourite prebiotic smoothie consists of some of the list below:
Flaxseed (2 tsp)
Chia seeds (2 tsp)
Oats (Aldi Organic)
Always try to keep banana, flaxseed and chia seeds as a base. Here you will gain omega-3, soluble fibre, minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, magnesium, calcium and amino acids to build protein, inulin and butyrate which bacteria produce to help repair and manage the gut lining.
Prebiotics are foods that bacteria love to grow and stay healthy to boost your immunity and repair your gut lining.