Achieve Your Ideal Weight and heal your gut
Do you want to achieve your ideal weight? There is one simple thing you can do every day that will bring you enormous benefits: eat more vegetables and fruits!
You might have expected a more fancy tip but, I promise, this is the number one thing you should keep in mind. Incorporate vegetables and fruits at every meal of the day and you will feel better in every aspect.
Keep reading to find out why vegetables and fruits are so beneficial for the gut microbiome. Gut health is a key factor for achieving a healthy mind and body!
Fiber and resistant starch act as prebiotics
Because fiber and resistant starch found in vegetables and fruits are not digested by our body, they can travel to the large intestine. These compounds, called prebiotics, feed our good bacteria and, as a return, they produce beneficial substances for our body. One of the most studied compounds is short chain fatty acids (SCFAs), such as butyrate, acetate and propionate. We will mention them quite often in this article due to their health benefits.
A diet low in fiber has been shown to reduce total bacterial abundance, which in turn is linked to poor gut health and pathogen susceptibility.1, 2 Fiber increases bacteria involved in the fermentation of carbohydrates and production of SCFAs3, 4, 5, 6 Just to have a few names:
- Lactic acid bacteria (LAB)
- Bifidobacterium species
- Bacteroides species
Fiber also increases gut transit and Keeps You Full For Longer
Fiber slows the absorption of various nutrients and therefore, reduces the emptying time of your stomach.3, 7 You will feel fuller and more satisfied, thus making it easier to reduce your overall calories for the day.
The recommended minimum dosage of fiber is 25 grams a day for women and 38 grams for men. The average UK and US diet tend to have only about 12-18 grams, while people on a plant-based diet can consume quantities as high as 30-70 grams/day.8 If you want to increment the amount of fiber you consume, do it slowly, since drastic changes may lead to digestive issues (bloating, gas, constipation or diarrhea) until your gut microbiota gets used to it. Digestive enzymes can be of great help in these cases! You can try these.
A Plant-Based Diet Provides Benefits Against A Multitude Of Cancers
As you keep reading this article, I think it is becoming very clear what benefits vegetables and fruits can provide to your body. What if I told you that a plant-based diet is key to reduce the risk of multiple cancers?9 There are many stories of cancer patients that benefitted from a plant-based diet!
Apart from containing good amounts of fiber, vegetables and fruits also have compounds called phytochemicals. Bacteria can degrade them leading to the production of substances with anticarcinogenic properties. In fact, studies have shown a correlation between the ingestion of these vegetables and a lower risk of cancer, especially digestive tract, bladder, prostate and lung.10
Fruits and vegetables reduce inflammation in your body
As mentioned earlier, more fiber leads to more SCFAs production. The main compound, butyrate, have been linked to many beneficial activities in our body:
- Butyrate serves as food for the epithelial cells of the colon (colonocytes)
- Reinforces the epithelial defense barrier
- Reduces mucosal inflammation and oxidative stress
- Has a regulatory effect on gene expression
- Modulates intestinal motility2, 11, 12
Fruits and vegetables Contain many antioxidants
Polyphenols are substances that act as antioxidants. These are found in red wine, green tea, blueberries, pomegranates, spices, cherries and dark chocolate, among others. Polyphenols can reach the gut and are able to neutralize oxidants generated by digestion of nutrients right there.
Research has shown that antioxidants can serve as a key nutrient for beneficial bacteria (Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium and Bacteroides).13 Bacteria can, in turn, generate vitamins (B12 and vitamin K), SCFAs, other molecules that function as natural antibiotics.13, 14
Fruits And Vegetables are low-calorie
Apart from fruits like avocado, mango, dates and coconut, the rest of fruits and vegetables are low-calorie and can be eaten in big amounts without increasing a lot your overall calories.
Moreover, resistant starch found in vegetables functions similarly as soluble fiber. The energy intake produced by fermentation in the large intestine by the gut microbiota is 1.5 kcal/g glucose, lower than when glucose is absorbed in the small intestine (3.9kcal/g glucose). Thus, less energy is extracted from resistant starch and fiber compared to when carbohydrates are digested and absorbed in the first part of the gastrointestinal tract.15, 16
Fruits And Vegetables Have all three macronutrients
The main macronutrient of vegetables and fruits are carbohydrates. However, foods such as avocado, coconut and olives contain higher quantities of fat; while green peas, legumes and broccoli have bigger amounts of proteins.
Many experts agree that plant-derived proteins have a better effect than animal-derived ones on the gut and overall health. In fact, pea protein has been linked to increased intestinal SCFA levels. On the contrary, studies have indicated that microbial changes due to high animal-based protein diets are linked to inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs), increased risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer.2, 17, 18
Fermented vegetables provide probiotics
Foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles and olives provide living bacteria which will contribute to your gut health. Some of the stuff they can help with are:
- Production of SCFAs
- Production of certain vitamins
- Spatial competition with intestinal pathogens
- Help prevent some common side effects of treatment with antibiotics
- Help regulate blood sugar and cholesterol levels
- Strengthen the immune system 19, 20, 21, 22
More information regarding how much probiotics should you take a day? Read this post!
I hope to have convinced you to eat more vegetables and fruits in every meal and improved your understanding of how this can contribute to reaching your ideal weight. If you have any questions or comments please contact me by email :)