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Why we need to be eating more fibre

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We’re not eating enough fibre—and our guts are suffering,

Fibre, which we get from vegetables and whole grains, is the starting point for a healthy gut microbiome, the universe of bacteria that controls our health. 

Fibre is cellulose, but bacteria that breaks it down are disappearing from the gut in industrialized countries, where fibre-rich diets are being replaced by processed foods.

Scientists at Ben Gurion University of the Negev in Israel have isolated the bacteria—known as Ruminococcus—that breaks down cellulose, a process that produces special proteins called cellulosomes that are essential for creating a balanced microbiome.

Cellulose is difficult to digest because it is insoluble, but the gut’s special bacteria can do it.  They break down the fibre into shorter chains, which are used by other bacteria in the gut.  “Bottom line, cellulosomes turn fibre into sugars that feed an entire community, a formidable engineering feat,” explained Edward Bayer, one of the scientists.

Although cellulosomes were in abundance in the guts of our hunter-gatherer ancestors, who primarily ate a plant-based diet, they have almost disappeared in the modern gut.

So, start eating more fibre.

References
Science, 2024; 383 (6688); doi: 10.1126/science.adj9223
Article Topics: diet, fibre, healthy eating
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