From Dr. Mercola:
Your gut microbiota plays a crucial role in your health, and the 100 trillion or so microbes living in your gut feed on the foods you eat. In this way, your diet influences your health not just by the micronutrients it contains, but also by how it affects the bacterial colonies residing in your intestinal tract.
In the featured video, Rhonda Patrick PhD, a biomedical scientist, interviews intestinal microbiota researchers Justin and Erica Sonnenburg about the interactions between diet and gut bacteria—specifically those living in your colon—and the effects on your health.
Justin Sonnenburg is an associate professor of microbiology and immunology at Stanford, and Erica Sonnenburg is a senior research scientist in the Sonnenburg Lab,1 which is part of the department of microbiology and immunology at Stanford. The Importance of Fiber for Gut Health
Much of the discussion pivots around the role of dietary fiber, which promotes health by fueling beneficial bacteria to produce compounds that help regulate your immune function.
For starters, these compounds help increase T regulatory cells, specialized immune cells that help prevent autoimmune responses and more. Via a process called hematopoiesis, they’re also involved in the formation of other types of blood cells in your body.
Few Americans get the standard recommendation of 30 to 32 grams of fiber per day, and when fiber is lacking, it starves these beneficial bacteria, thereby setting your health into a downward spiral. As noted by Patrick:
“This has an effect not only on the immune system and autoimmune diseases but also results in the breakdown of the gut barrier, which leads to widespread inflammation and inflammatory diseases.”
Toward the end of the video, Erica Sonnenburg also delves into the effects of C-sections, explaining how avoiding vaginal birth negatively impacts the baby’s health by depriving him or her of exposure to bacteria present in the mother’s vaginal canal.
She also explains how infant formula may affect your child’s health, as it does not contain human milk oligosaccharides—special carbohydrates found only in breast milk that specifically nourishes your baby’s gut flora.
High-Fiber Diet Reduces All-Cause Mortality
Mounting research suggests that a high soluble fiber diet can help reduce your risk of premature death from any cause, likely because it helps to reduce your risk of a number of chronic diseases.
This includes type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and cancer. Studies have also linked a high-fiber diet to beneficial reductions in cholesterol and blood pressure, improved insulin sensitivity, and reduced inflammation—all of which can influence your mortality risk.
Most recently, a meta-analysis2,3 evaluating the impact of a high soluble fiber diet on mortality with pooled data from nearly 1 million Europeans and Americans found a 10 percent drop in mortality risk with each 10-gram per day increase in fiber.
Organic psyllium is one of the best ways to radically increase your intake of soluble fiber. I believe most people could benefit from more fiber and personally take about 3 ounces of organic psyllium