EAT YOUR VEGETABLES!
A couple of days ago, I spotted a remarkable article[i] on Medical Express describing new research into the effects of dietary fiber on the health of the intestine. The article discusses a new paper[ii] in the journal Cell, written by an international team of researchers showing the impact (in mice) of fiber deprivation the mucosal lining of the intestine. The mice were raised without any gut microbes at all, and then had 14 strains of bacteria (common in the human intestinal tract) transferred to their intestines. Some of the mice were also infected with a strain of e.coli that is known to potentially cause gut infections in humans (leading to inflammation and symptoms of diarrhea).
The researchers then looked at the impact of diets with different fiber content, including a diet with none at all. What they found was that when starved of their food source, fiber, “the bacteria began to eat the natural layer of mucus that lines the gut, eroding it to the point where dangerous invading bacteria can infect the colon wall.” In fact, the researchers noted that in no-fiber conditions, the pathogenic bacteria flourished, and the mice rapidly became symptomatic.
The mice that received a diet consisting of 15% fiber from grains and plants completely maintained their mucus lining. What’s really amazing is that in these healthy mice, within days of removing fiber, negative changes were apparent: the bacteria began eating away at the mucus lining.
The researchers also noted that the mix of bacteria changed, even day to day, depending on how much fiber the mice were fed. In low and no fiber conditions, the bacterial strains that thrived were those that produce enzymes which break down the glycoprotenis that make up the mucus lining.
So what’s the take-home message? DIET MATTERS. As I said in my post yesterday, in my personal experience, it is one of the single most important components of achieving and maintaining your health.
[ii] Desai, Mahesh S. et al. A Dietary Fiber-Deprived Microbiota Degrades the Colonic Mucus Barrier and Enhances Pathogen Susceptibility. Cell: Volume 167 , Issue 5 , 1339 – 1353.e21