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How fiber feeds your gut microbiome, no yogurt needed

Dietary fiber is often described as the stuff we eat that we can't digest. But that all depends on what you mean by we. Fiber feeds our gut microbiome, the bacteria that live in our digestive tracks that help us extract nutrients from food.

five types of dried beans

You don't need to eat yogurt to have a healthy, balanced system. You need to eat a lot of fiber. That means eating the Fabulous Five: vegetables, fruit, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. Meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products don't have any fiber.

I've been on a bit of a microbiome binge lately, reading the fascinating book I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes within Us and a Grander View of Life and watching videos from Dr. Michael Gregor about diet and the microbiome. Here are just a few of the mind-blowing things I've learned:

  • Our microbiome affects how much of our food we convert into fat and how much nutrition we can extract from it.
  • When you eat a lot of plants, you feed the microbes that will keep you lean. When you eat a lot of animal products and fat, you feed the microbes that can make you obese.
  • Your microbiome is very responsive. As Dr. Gregor's video shows, eating plants today can help you stay lean tomorrow.

Reader Comments (4)

Why aren't legumes one of the fabulous five ?

Jun 30, 2017 | Registered Commentersusannaball

Thanks, Cookie! I'm finding it to be motivating, too, now that I know I'm eating for the multitudes!

Jul 7, 2017 | Registered CommenterLinda Watson

Dear Susannaball, I count legumes (beans, lentils, and peas) as vegetables and one of the most fabulous of the Fabulous Five. describes how nutritionists count legumes as a protein source AND as a vegetable. Eating legumes gives you double the goodness. Thanks so much for raising this point.

Jul 7, 2017 | Registered CommenterLinda Watson
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