Thursday, January 14, 2016

Yet another shitty post will be good for your gut

Literature has offered many memorable opening lines. Movies have delivered awesome ending lines. The following, while not anywhere in the league as those lines, will at least make you smile first:
If you pass small stools, you have big hospitals.
And then you perhaps wonder what the connection is between hospitals and stools, which we regular people simply refer to as shit.

The connection is this: the value of fiber (promotes Bristol-quality stools) and the consequences of avoiding it (big hospitals.)

But, of course, it is more than merely about your stools: it is about the "microbes in our guts"
Fiber is a broad term that includes many kinds of plant carbohydrates that we cannot digest. Our microbes can, though, and they break fiber into chemicals that nourish our cells and reduce inflammation. But no single microbe can tackle every kind of fiber. They specialize, just as every antelope in the African savannah munches on its own favored type of grass or shoot. This means that a fiber-rich diet can nourish a wide variety of gut microbes and, conversely, that a low-fiber diet can only sustain a narrower community.
You can already see where this is headed--you take care of the gut microbes, and they take care of your wallet that will otherwise be drained out at big hospitals.

A team of microbiologists worked on mice by feeding successive generations low-fiber diet, which then drastically wiped out their microbiome environment, which has implications for our modern urban existence:
Many studies have now shown that the gut microbiomes of Western city-dwellers are less diverse than those of rural villagers and hunter-gatherers, who eat more plants and thus more fiber. The Stanford researchers’ experiment hints (but doesn't confirm) that this low diversity could be a lasting legacy of industrialization, in which successive generations of low-fiber meals have led to the loss of old bacterial companions. “The data we present also hint that further deterioration of the Western microbiota is possible,” the team writes.
What happens to humans on low-fiber lifestyles?
First, without fiber, starving microbes often turn their attention to similar molecules, including those in the mucus layer that covers the gut. If they erode this layer sufficiently, they might be able to enter the lining of the gut itself, triggering immune reactions that lead to chronic inflammation.
Second, there’s evidence that a diverse microbiome can better resist invasive species like Salmonella or Clostridium difficile, while low diversity is a common feature of obesity, inflammatory bowel disease, and other conditions.
Big hospitals!

You remember an earlier post in which I blogged about how the good microbes can be re-introduced into the gut?  What you forgot already?

Here's to hoping that you are healthy enough not to need a fiber hill of beans ;)


Ramesh said...

You can eat a high fibre diet.
You can also eat a pill with all those good bacteria.
And pray to God (or whatever your equivalent is) that you never enter a big hospital.

Sriram Khé said...

Yes, whatever we can do to at least delay as much as possible entering the big hospital ... it is like Mark Twain's comment about taking a watch for repair work--you may as well bury the watch, he sarcastically noted ;)

Anne in Salem said...

Good nutrition is so much simpler than the variety of "nutrition" books would indicate. Michael Pollan's much-quoted memorable opening line of In Defense of Food says it well: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

Now if only following practicing was as simple as typing it!

Sriram Khé said...

Kind of an irony that you should quote Michael Pollan ... I have blogged about him as a hypocrite in these food discussions ;)

Ramesh, and the friend and I, can vouch for the ease of "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." It is far too easy ...

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