This year, once again, the number one resolution among Germans is to eat healthier. The key to the goal: adequate dietary fiber intake. Why this is so important and how to get enough fiber in your diet.
How do they say? New Year New luck. New Year’s resolutions are also very popular with Germans this year. The most common good intention: to eat healthier – that shows a current survey by the statistics platform Statista. This is closely followed by the desire to do more sport and lose weight – a very exemplary result, but studies have shown for years that very few are actually able to implement their good intentions.
The most common reasons for this:
In order not to fail in the New Year’s resolution of a “healthy diet” this year, the formulation of goals should be fine-tuned accordingly. Instead of making the New Year’s resolution “healthy eating”, it makes sense to first pay attention to some aspects of a healthy diet – fiber, for example. They form the basis of a balanced, natural diet and are the prerequisite for a healthy intestine.
It is now widely documented that health begins in the gut. The organ takes on important bodily functions that go far beyond mere digestion:
70 percent of the immune system is located in the intestinal mucosa, so the intestine is the main player in the immune system. Billions of intestinal bacteria of all kinds live here, which are responsible for fighting off pathogens and foreign bodies and protecting the body from possible pollutants.
In order for all processes to function smoothly, the different types of intestinal bacteria must be in the right proportion to each other. However, if long-term miscolonization occurs as a result of persistent stress, lack of exercise and/or poor nutrition, important immune defense processes can no longer function smoothly, and toxic metabolic products can also develop. In addition, the intestine is also involved in the body’s immune response. If it is permanently bad, infectious diseases, skin diseases, rheumatism and even allergies can be the result.
In addition, most of the nutrient absorption takes place in the intestine – more precisely in the small intestine. Here ingested food is digested and the nutrients (proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals) are absorbed. If there is a miscolonization of the small intestine, malabsorption can occur. Accordingly, nutrients are no longer properly absorbed. Deficiency symptoms and even malnutrition can occur.
Last but not least, intestinal health also affects mental well-being. Proverbs like “That pisses me off” or “That hits my stomach” have long illustrated the interaction between our well-being and the digestive tract. Research summarizes this interaction under the term “gut-brain axis”. The term refers to the connection between the gut and the brain, which is primarily via the vagus nerve. Due to the neuronal networking of both organs, they can communicate with the help of various messenger substances. Intestinal microbes and the intestinal flora make a fundamental contribution to the exchange between the gut and the brain, with 90 percent significantly more information being passed from the gut to the brain than vice versa.
In the case of an incorrect colonization in the intestine, the production of important messenger substances and hormones such as serotonin, which are normally passed on to the central nervous system via the intestine-brain axis, is usually also disturbed. An imbalance in the intestine can also make itself felt mentally and promote depressive feelings, mood swings and concentration problems, among other things.
An imbalance in the intestinal flora can manifest itself through a wide variety of symptoms. The most common are:
In addition, there may be other symptoms that are often not associated with intestinal health.
Proper nutrition is essential for a healthy intestinal flora and a balance of intestinal bacteria. Only when there is good “food” for the intestinal bacteria will they settle in the intestine in the long term. In this regard, dietary fiber is considered the best friend of an intact intestinal mucosa. The fiber-rich components of plant foods can reach the large intestine undigested and are only fully digested here. A distinction is made between two types of dietary fiber:
A comprehensive meta-analysis by the University of Otago demonstrates the comprehensive effect of fiber on the gut. She:
Another bonus: Due to their swelling properties, dietary fibers have a long-lasting satiating effect. In order for the dietary fiber to be effective, however, sufficient fluid intake is essential. If you drink too little, fiber can have a constipating effect and, in extreme cases, even cause an intestinal obstruction. At least two liters of water per day apply here as a guideline to counteract this.
The German Society for Nutrition (DGE) recommends a daily dietary fiber intake of at least 30 grams per day. 40 grams is even better. According to the DGE, however, 68 percent of men and 75 percent of women in Germany do not reach the recommended value of at least 30 grams of fiber per day. The reason for this is obvious: the modern diet, which consists of increasingly processed, industrial products such as meat, cheese, milk, eggs and cereal products made from white flour, contains almost no fiber.
In order to cover your fiber needs without much effort, we have summarized the largest sources of fiber for you. The information relates to the amount of dietary fiber contained in 100 grams:
Foods that contain resistant starch are also particularly recommended. These are, for example, cooled boiled potatoes, rice or pasta and green bananas. Resistant starch reaches the large intestine undigested, where it serves as food for the beneficial intestinal bacteria. Fermented foods such as sauerkraut and bulking agents, which are found in fruit and vegetable puree, for example, also support the intestinal flora.
There are also foods that are better avoided in terms of health in general and gut health in particular. “One to three times a week a croissant or a piece of chocolate balances the body with a healthy diet,” says intestinal expert Thomas Frieling, head of the clinic for internal medicine and neurogastroenterology at the Helios Clinic Krefeld to FOCUS online. To be enjoyed in moderation:
The German Society for Nutrition (DGE) provides suggestions for a high-fiber diet that can give you ideas for designing your own diet:
This menu gives a total fiber intake of 30.1 grams.
This menu gives a total fiber intake of 30.4 grams.
Conclusion: This year, maybe don’t just focus on the topic of losing weight and define the term “healthy nutrition” more precisely. With an increased fiber content and an intestinal-friendly diet, you are already doing all sorts of good things for your health.