Why fiber protects you from Inflammatory Bowel Disease

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Inflammatory bowel disease affects about 1.6 million Americans, according to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America. Many people living with the gastrointestinal (GI) disease, have limited their fiber intake in order to manage the symptoms. A study in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, however, says those low-fiber diets may actually make matters worse. 

What the research found about fiber

The multisectional cross-study looked at 92 participants, each with some form of an inflammatory bowel disease, like Crohn’s. After analyzing their daily fiber intake, researchers realized all of the participants were deficient in dietary fiber.

Sure, certain fiber sources might cause inflammatory flare-ups, but eliminating them might actually be more harmful to the gut in the long run. Ninety-seven percent of Americans are not getting the minimal amount of fiber that’s recommended to them, which is 25 grams for women and 37 grams for men, gastroenterologist Will Bulsiewicz, M.D recommends.

In terms of the study? Only 38% of the participants were consuming an adequate amount of dietary fiber, and the intake of resistant starches was even lower. According to the study, the recommended daily intake for resistant starches is 20 grams per day, yet participants were only eating an average of 2.9 grams per day. 

Now, why does it matter?

Well, despite certain fiber myths, these prebiotic fibers and resistant starches are necessary for overall gut and digestive health (bonus: they also help with sleep and stress). By traveling through the intestine without fully digesting, they help feed the good bacteria in the gut (aka probiotics) and help nourish the microbiome. In other words, prebiotics are breakfast, lunch, and dinner for probiotics, which restores them and can improve GI health. 

To get more resistant starches in the diet and enhance overall gut health, consider adding vegetables high in prebiotic-resistant starches, including plantains, green bananas, legumes, potatoes, rice, and vegetables, or taking a blend of pre- and probiotic supplements. 

Final words

Fiber is your friend. As this new research suggests, that particularly applies to individuals with inflammatory bowel disease, but experts confirm the sentiment holds true for just about everyone. So be sure you’re feeding your body an adequate amount of healthy fiber, particularly prebiotics and resistant starch, to keep your gut and digestion running smoothly.

While working with clients, I am always paying attention to the health of their gut microbiome since it is so important to our holistic health!

As a Health Coach, I am mentoring my clients to create and maintain long-term lifestyle changes to enhance their overall quality of life. In addition to supporting clients with specific goals, I empower my clients to choose health-promoting behaviors that work for them. I raise awareness and offer support as clients move in their own bio-individual ways toward the greater health they want for themselves. My coaching hopefully leads to long-term behavior change, but only because I help my clients do the meaningful work that forms a strong foundation.

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