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Knowing how your digestive system works helps to keep you on track to a healthier body.

There’s a microscopic reason that the paleo diet can quickly improve your health and body. And knowing why it helps you lose weight and keeps you from getting sick is important. Plus it can give you insight on how your body works and how to keep it working well for decades.

Actually, it’s not one reason … there are a few billion microscopic reasons for the benefits produced by the paleo diet. They live inside your digestive tract and they’re called microflora or microbiota. Billions of these friendly inhabitants of the intestines produce nutrients that feed the body. They also help the immune system function properly and protect your body so you can avoid the kind of malfunction that can lead to autoimmune disease.

One key to keeping your friendly bacteria thriving is with the wealth of dietary fiber you consume when you focus on the fruits and vegetables included in paleo eating.

The science on this is so solid that critics of the paleo diet can’t rebut the research that shows how dietary fiber improves health in this way.

Meanwhile, many of the fiber-poor grains and processed foods that make up the foods the giant food conglomerates want to sell you do the opposite. They nourish harmful microbes that are connected to being overweight and developing metabolic problems that lead to type 2 diabetes.

Fulfilling fermentation

How does your microflora produce such benefits? One method is through the fermentation of dietary fiber from fruits and vegetables.

Did you know that fiber contains no useable calories that your body can absorb? Yet your bacteria thrive on these indigestible starches.

Research published in the British Medical Journal shows that proprionate, a compound that these good bacteria make when fiber is fermented in the intestines, stimulates the release of hormones in the digestive tract called PYY and GLP-1.

In turn, those hormones make you feel full and are central helping you decide not to eat more food.

And that’s a far cry from what happens when you eat the types of snack food, like chips, that are formulated by food manufacturers to make it hard to “eat just one.”

You can pig out on potato chips and experience remorse after you empty the bag because you’re still hungry. By contrast, you can only consume a limited amount of a fruit like grapes. Grapes are delicious, and they fill you up long before you can regret overeating.

And do I really need to convince you that grapes have more beneficial natural chemicals in them than chips?

But I know you’re reading this because you’re naturally curious and want to know the science behind the benefits of a natural chemical like proprionate. So feast on the researchers’ conclusion: “The present results support a role specifically for colonic propionate in weight management and may provide a molecular explanation of recent data that have observed changes in the gut [range of bacteria] and associated [short chain fatty acid production] profiles in weight loss.”

Another type of fiber that benefits your flora is called inulin, which is known as a “prebiotic.” That means it encourages good bacteria and good bacteria feeds on it. Inulin is difficult to digest, and gets into your large intestine mostly intact, where your beneficial flora can feed on it and help you produce B-vitamins, for example. Bananas, one of the oldest foods in the world, have the most, but high-fiber vegetables like peas and beans have some too.

Fiber for your heart

Meanwhile, a long list of studies demonstrate how dietary fiber helps heart health and reduces the type of harmful inflammation that can damage the cardiovascular system.

For instance, a study that analyzed data from research called the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) shows that, on average, we consume too little fiber, and our heart health, waistlines and risk of type 2 diabetes are the worse for it.

The study showed that eating less fiber means worse health. “Overall, the prevalence of the metabolic syndrome, inflammation, and obesity each decreased with increasing quintiles of dietary fiber intake,” warns researcher Cheryl R. Clark, who is with Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Harvard Medical School. “Compared with participants in the lowest quintile of dietary fiber intake, participants in the highest quintile of dietary fiber intake had a statistically significant lower risk of having the metabolic syndrome, inflammation, and obesity.”

So let the critics argue about the trendiness of the paleo diet to their hearts’ content. If you want a healthy heart, you need to eat plenty of paleo fruits and vegetables.

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BCOCCA President - Neville Thomas

Neville Thomas 200px

As President of British Columbia Organization of Caribbean Cultural Associations, I am grateful for the opportunity to work on behalf of the Caribbean Community to identify and execute Community Building initiatives which embrace BCOCCA'S mandate.

 

 

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