“We are what we eat”, goes the old saying, but what we really should say is “we are what our bacteria do with what we eat”. Our digestive system is vital in protecting our body against potential diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and bowel cancer. Eating a variety of foods including meat, chicken, fish, dairy or dairy alternatives, grains along with fruit and vegetables work together to maintain the health of the gut and bacteria, known as the gut microbiota. Men have a higher risk of developing bowel cancer than women and also need more fibre than women.
Given June is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, it's timely to talk about super sizing your fibre intake to protect against bowel cancer.
Dietary fibre is the primary food source for the trillions of bacteria that live mostly in the large bowel. Fibre is not absorbed in the small bowel, when it reaches the large bowel the bacteria ferments it to produce short chain fatty acids. These short chain fatty acids have important roles in the bowel they:
Eating a variety of plant foods is key to provide the gut microbiota with all the different types of fibre it likes, bacteria have their favourite foods, some like fibre from grains while others like fruit or vegetable fibre.
Adding more fibre to your diet can be easy, here are some simple ways that might help:
Take home messages
To find out more check out www.thegut.org.nz