By Dr. Mercola
Your gut microbiota plays a crucial role in your health, and the 100 trillion or so microbes living in your gut feed on the foods you eat. In this way, your diet influences your health not just by the micronutrients it contains, but also by how it affects the bacterial colonies residing in your intestinal tract.
In the featured video, Rhonda Patrick PhD, a biomedical scientist, interviews intestinal microbiota researchers Justin and Erica Sonnenburg about the interactions between diet and gut bacteria—specifically those living in your colon—and the effects on your health.Justin Sonnenburg is an associate professor of microbiology and immunology at Stanford, and Erica Sonnenburg is a senior research scientist in the Sonnenburg Lab,1 which is part of the department of microbiology and immunology at Stanford.
The Importance of Fiber for Gut Health
Much of the discussion pivots around the role of dietary fiber, which promotes health by fueling beneficial bacteria to produce compounds that help regulate your immune function.
For starters, these compounds help increase T regulatory cells, specialized immune cells that help prevent autoimmune responses and more. Via a process called hematopoiesis, they’re also involved in the formation of other types of blood cells in your body.
Few Americans get the standard recommendation of 30 to 32 grams of fiber per day, and when fiber is lacking, it starves these beneficial bacteria, thereby setting your health into a downward spiral. As noted by Patrick:
“This has an effect not only on the immune system and autoimmune diseases but also results in the breakdown of the gut barrier, which leads to widespread inflammation and inflammatory diseases.”
Toward the end of the video, Erica Sonnenburg also delves into the effects of C-sections, explaining how avoiding vaginal birth negatively impacts the baby’s health by depriving him or her of exposure
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