For centuries, our ancestors had survived on a diet full of plant-based fiber and healthy sources of fats and proteins. But today, due to the popularity of fast foods and processed food, consumption of fiber significantly dropped. If you are a “meat and potatoes” person, this is for you!

How Do Low Fiber Diets Damage The Gut?

Our gut is home to trillions of bacteria of varying species. They make up an intestinal ecosystem that forms numerous colonies. Many of these bacteria are not only beneficial but critical to our survival as they strengthen our immune system, ward off disease-causing pathogens, and play a major role in our mental process.

Fiber, the indigestible nutrient, is the main food source for gut microflora. It can be found only in plant-based foods like vegetables, fruits, nut, seeds, and even grains. Low Fiber Diets can cause incredible harm to your gut microflora.

Toxic Build-up. Dietary fiber plays a major role in supporting the body’s elimination and filtration systems. In the book ‘Toxic Overload’ by Paula Baillie-Hamilton[i], the author points out that there are two kinds of fiber that play a crucial role in preventing toxic build-up.

Insoluble Low Fiber Diets often referred to as roughage, is not digested but simply passes through the gut unchanged. This kind of fiber speeds the movement of body wastes through the bowels, and hence, lowering the chance of the body to reabsorb toxic waste products.

The second type of fiber is soluble fiber. This type of fiber plays an exceptionally crucial part in the detoxification process. When you consume adequate soluble fiber, it acts like a sponge in the gut; soaking up and transport bile along with harmful toxins out of the body. Without it they toxins can get recycled in your system. This toxic recycling process can lead to different kinds of inflammatory diseases such as intestinal inflammation, gallbladder disease, and even skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, and acne.

Soluble fiber can even help lower the level of nearly all types of chemical toxins such as toxic metals and organochlorines. This is because of its strong quality to bind to hazardous toxins while passing through the digestive tract you can eliminate them safely.

Dysbiosis. Numerous factors can affect gut flora. But the strongest factor of gut bacterial condition, diversity, and health is your diet, particularly your fiber intake. Not all fiber is the same. Specific types of fiber that promote beneficial bacterial growth are called microbiota-accessible carbohydrates (MAC’s), popularly known as prebiotics.

Prebiotics are the indigestible carbs that move through the lower part of the gastrointestinal tract and are fermented by resident bacteria. Now, a diet lacking in prebiotic fiber reduces the number of bacteria that are dependent on them. This leads to an imbalance in your gut bacteria resulting in too few beneficial bacteria. When beneficial bacteria decrease there tends to be a corresponding increase in the number of yeast or bad bacteria. This condition is called ‘dysbiosis’. A study proved that a Low Fiber Diets can lead to an absolute deficiency of resident gut flora such as Lactobacillus, E.coli, and Bifidobacteria. This was proven through a stool culture showing the concentration of E. coli or Lactobacillus is reduced[ii].

Dysbiosis sets up a series of events that leads to inflammation, then followed by a number of symptoms and problems such as:

  • Colorectal cancer[iii]
  • Irritable bowel syndrome[iv]
  • Breast Cancer[v]
  • Inflammatory bowel disease[vi]
  • Metabolic diseases such as diabetes, obesity and gestational diabetes[vii]
  • Neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease[viii]

So, if you want the reduce you toxic load and prevent many of the major modern illness, increasing your fiber intake is a great place to start.

[i] Paula Baillie-Hamilton, MD Ph.D. Toxic Overload: A Doctor’s Plan for Combating the Illnesses Caused by Chemicals in Our Foods, Our Homes, and Our Medicine Cabinets. May 2005.

[ii] Leo Galland, M.D., F.A.C.N., and Stephen Barrie, N.D. (May 2016). Intestinal Dysbiosis and the Causes of Disease.

[iii] Keku, T.O., et al. “The Gastrointestinal Microbiota and Colorectal Cancer.” American Journal of Physiology-Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology (2014).

[iv] Bennet, S. M., et al. “Gut microbiota as potential orchestrators of irritable bowel syndrome.” Gut and Liver 23, no. 9 (2015): 318-31.

[v] Shapira, I., et al. “Evolving Concepts: How Diet and the Intestinal Microbiome Act as Modulators of Breast Malignancy.” ISRN Oncology 2013 (2013).

[vi]  Macfarlane, S. et al. “Intestinal bacteria and inflammatory bowel disease.” Critical Reviews in Clinical Laboratory Sciences 46, no. 1 (2009): 25-54.

[vii]  Esteve, E., et al. “Gut microbiota interactions with obesity, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes: did gut microbiota co-evolve with insulin resistance?” Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care 14, no. 5 (2011): 483-490.

[viii] Charlett, A., et al. “Blood profile holds clues to the role of infection in a premonitory state for idiopathic parkinsonism and of gastrointestinal infection in established disease.” Gut Pathogens 1, no. 1 (2009): 20.


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