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Gut doctor on why adding more fibre to your diet could transform your health – Press and Journal

Posted: May 20, 2020 at 4:46 pm

Dr Megan Rossi made it her mission to educate people on the importance of feeding our gut bacteria the right foods. Here, she explains why fibre can be the most overlooked part of our diet yet could have the greatest impact.

Her conviction that we have the power to transform our health through what we eat has made her one of Britains most prominent advocates of a gut-friendly diet.

But while we might imagine that our focus should be on reducing calories, cutting out sugar, or just eating more fruit and veg, Dr Megan Rossi known as The Gut Health Doctor believes we are missing an important trick.

The Eat Yourself Healthy author, who is a registered dietitian and nutritionist, says that by adding just eight grams of plant-based fibre into our diet each day we can dramatically reduce our risk of serious illnesses including type-2 diabetes and heart disease, whilst also boosting our mental health.

She explained: Fibre is my favourite nutrient. A lot of people know that as a nation were not getting enough fibre, but they dont realise why it is important.

Fibre is the backbone of our plant-based foods, and there are six different plant-based food types: wholegrains, nuts, seeds, beans and pulses, fruit, and veg.

Each different group contains different types of fibre. Human cells dont contain the enzymes to digest them so fibre doesnt benefit human cells, but what fibre does benefit is our gut bacteria. Its fertilizer for our gut bacteria and thats why its so important to include it in our diet from those six different food groups.

There are some amazing stats showing that for every eight gram increase in fibre per day, we lower our risk of type 2 diabetes by 15%, heart disease by 19% and colon cancer by eight per cent. A lot of people might think, Whats eight grams of fibre? Its a can a beans, a piece of fruit and nut butter, wholegrain crackers and hummus, so its attainable but we need to get into the habit of doing it every day.

Dr Rossi recommends that we eat 30 plant-based foods every week sourced from across the six categories to optimise our gut health. And for those who can increase their dietary fibre in this way, she believes the benefits go beyond our physical health.

Weve got some pretty hard science to support it. In one study, the Smiles trial, a landmark study in Australia, what they did was show that a gut-boosting diet can have a significant improvement on peoples mental health.

They found 32% who followed a high-fibre gut diet had a significant boost to their mental health. Its such a strong case for what we feed our bodies can have a significant impact. I would never recommend for people experiencing depression that they stop their medication and just go all diet, but what we see in the earlier stages where diet is used as first-line therapy is it can be really helpful.

The good news for those of us with a sweet tooth is that sugar in itself is not going to harm your gut health, particularly if we adapt our treats to include some of that all-important plant-based fibre.

Dr Rossi said: Food is about enjoying it, but we also need to think of our gut bacterias tastes as well. Its not about sacrificing on your favourite foods but, for instance, if youre thinking about white chocolate my favourite food I make sure I add in some types of dietary fibres liked dried mango and pistachio nuts, combine them together so it also feeds the gut bacteria.

Similarly, the odd sugary drink doesnt pose too great a threat either, according to Dr Rossi but thats not necessarily true of those containing artificial sweeteners.

She said: We know that having too many fizzy drinks is not going to be great for your health because they have a lot of added sugars and empty calories. In the context of a whole diet, if its something you have as a once-off treat thats okay. If it contains sugar its not directly affecting your gut bacteria. So if you have a really healthy diet and add in a sugary drink now and then I think thats going to be okay.

If youre looking at the fizzy drinks that have artificial sweeteners in them, this is where we dont understand a lot yet. We do see some animal studies that suggest certain types of sweeteners may have a negative impact directly on the gut bacteria because they dont get absorbed higher up, they go to the lower part of the digestive tract where most of those microbes live and we think they can have a negative impact there. So I do think we need to be cautious.

If youre a soft drinks fan dreading the thought of giving them up, Dr Rossi suggests diluting your favourite drink to begin with, or trying a fermented alternative, like kombucha.

She added: For a lot of people thats an easy switch if theyre soda addicts. Instead of going cold turkey, making small gradual changes.

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PREBIOTIC CHOCOLATE BARK One of my favourite super simple recipes in my book, Eat Yourself Healthy (available on Amazon, Sainsburys, Tesco & all the book stores). It takes less than 5 minutes to make, is so tasty and packs an extra gut-loving punch. . I love white chocolate, but wanted something that my microbes would enjoy too. So here it is! The dried mango and pistachios are full of prebiotics, which are essentially foods that feed your beneficial microbes. Prebiotic foods come with a whole host of benefits and have been linked with improved blood-sugar regulation, support bone health, skin health and immunity. . What's more, I've added the extra virgin olive oil and dark chocolate drizzle for a bonus polyphenol hit (good plant chemicals that also feed our gut microbes). The darker the chocolate and higher percentage of cocoa, the more polyphenols which explains why dark chocolate has been linked with a lower risk of heart disease and diabetes (of course in moderation!). In fact, one study found that daily consumption of cocoa significantly lowered blood pressure a key risk factor for heart disease. It's also linked with better mental health, maybe it's that gut:brain axis at play. . YOU'LL NEED 200g good quality white chocolate 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil 50g good quality dark chocolate (70%+) Toppers: 50g dried mango & 50g crushed pistachios . METHOD 1Melt the white chocolate in the microwave for 40-60 seconds, stirring rapidly every 15 seconds 2Stir in the extra virgin olive oil 3Pour the mixture on to a lined baking tray and thinly spread the chocolate-coated mix and sprinkle on the toppers. Place in the fridge for a few minutes to set 4Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, melt the dark chocolate in the microwave (again stirring every 15 seconds) 5Once the white chocolate is firm, drizzle on the dark chocolate using a fork. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes (until rock solid), then remove and break into pieces. And enjoy! . If you're trying out for yourself, remember to tag me would love to see! #EatYourselfHealthy

A post shared by Dr Megan Rossi (PhD, RD, APD) (@theguthealthdoctor) on Aug 4, 2019 at 12:00pm PDT

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Gut doctor on why adding more fibre to your diet could transform your health - Press and Journal

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