It's not protein... it's FIBER!
Did you guess that? Likely not. In fact many people come to me worried about their protein intake. Not many think about their fiber intake. It's not something anyone is taught to pay attention to.
There are certain diet trends like the Keto or Carnivore diet that make carbohydrates out to be the devil. The only carbs that aren't great are processed carbs. But vegetables, fruits, whole grains, rice, and lentils are all carbohydrates that are packed with amazing nutrients, chief among them fiber.
Plant fibers feed the microbes in your gut. Without a variety of plant foods in your diet, chances are that the microbes in your gut are severely deficient in foods that they need for their very survival. This really matters because without healthy microbes in your gut, your gut microbiome will suffer. Without a healthy gut microbiome your immune system becomes compromised as well.
Any diet that encourages you to get plants out of your diet is going to compromise your long term health. Maybe in the short term someone who is doing Keto sees some weight loss. However most of the weight loss is related to releasing water weight and not actual fat. One of the bigger problems with Keto is the removal of foods that actually help support gut health. The biggest problem with Keto is that it increases all cause mortality. With the Carnivore diet there are similar issues, especially since there are no plant foods. The effect on gut health is even more extreme in the long run.
I cannot stress to you enough the importance of FIBER. If you're serious about health you want to get serious about having enough fiber in your diet. In cultures that have no processed foods they have an average of 200g of fiber a DAY. In North America most people are lucky if they get 15g of fiber. The daily recommended amount is 25-30g of fiber. Even at that rate, it's not enough for optimal gut health.
Do you see the massive disparity in that? I hope so. How does one get more fiber into their diet?
Lots and lots and lots of PLANTS! A variety of plant foods is the key to better gut health. The microbes in your gut need a variety of plant foods. In fact researchers don't even completely understand all the ways that plant fibers support the microbes in your gut. But they know they do.
There are two simple things you can do to bring more fiber into your life. First thing is to notice is the types of foods you are eating. The second thing you can do is start to incorporate more plant foods into your life. Work towards having at least 30 different types of plant foods into your life. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lentils, nuts, seeds, rice and so much more.
If you can commit to this you're going to enjoy eating foods alot more! Plus your body is going to thank you with better health. Your gut is going to feel better. Better gut health means better immune health. Happy body happy life. Until next time, be well.
Photo by Pille-Riin Priske