New research suggests that the typical Western diet is playing havoc with our guts, primarily because it is lacking in fibre: essential for promoting microbial diversity and maintaining good digestion.
According to the study, many Western diets contain only half the amount of fibre sufficient to keep a healthy amount of good bacteria in our guts. Missing out on this key aspect of nutrition could have long-standing ill effects, according to scientists working on the study.
Jens Walter, who co-authored the study, at the University of Alberta in Canada, said of the report that since human diets have changed to the point where our fibre intake is so low, we may well have affected the “human-microbiome interrelationship” which has evolved over time. Her opinion is that this may well be linked to an increase in non-infectious diseases as well as a rise in mortality rates.
Researcher Dr Denis Burkitt was the pioneer of linking a high fibre diet with good health. His study of communities in Africa who ate local natural produce revealed very low rates of diabetes, colon cancer, constipation and heart disease – afflictions typically sufferered by consumers of a Western diet. After consulting many factors, he concluded that a high fibre diet is necessary for good digestive health.
There are two types of fibre which should be included in a healthy diet. Soluble fibre can be digested and is important for increasing water content in the body. Good sources are pulses such as chickpeas, lentils and beans as well as crunchy fruit and veg such as apples and carrots. Insoluble fibre, commonly called “roughage” cannot be digested but is good for bulking out the diet and encouraging regular bowel movement. Sources are wholegrain cereals, corn and dried fruits.
Jasper’s offers a healthy workplace snacking solution – Snack Shack – which is an ideal and simple way of increasing the amount of fibre consumed each day. Offering a range of nutritional snacks such as whole and chopped fruit, pots of berries, nuts and seeds as well as packs of balanced snack mixes and popcorn, staff can easily increase the amount of fibre and other nutrients they consume, while cutting out poor quality sugary, starchy snacks. Contact your local Jasper’s for more information about Snack Shack.