Fiber and Gut Bacteria – Underrated Besties

Your digestive tract is home to a thriving community of bacteria numbering in the trillions. (significantly more than the number of cells in the body!) Their health impact is remarkable, influencing the way we think, how we feel, our quality of sleep, and a myriad of health conditions. It seems as though Hippocrates was right when he said, “all disease begins in the gut.”

Within the last 10 years, researchers have become keenly interested in the role of gut microbes and human health. They’ve discovered that the collective microbial community functions more like an organ rather than just a haphazard collection of bacteria. Thousands of species, each having millions of different types of bacteria, make up this collective ‘organ,’ which is responsible for producing essential metabolites that serve to keep us healthy, especially when it comes to our immune system. 

Numerous diseases have also been linked to an imbalance in gut bacteria, including asthma, allergies, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), obesity, cardiovascular disease, and colorectal cancer. Therefore, paying close attention to how well our bacterial allies are functioning deep within the gut is likely a worthwhile endeavor.

Keeping Your Bacteria Happy

Our gut needs bacteria in the same way we need food to survive. Although the interactions between gut bacteria are complex, there is one thing we know for sure: they require ample amounts of fiber found in fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and seeds! Regardless of whether the fiber is soluble, insoluble, or fermentable, our tiny microbial friends require up to 40 grams of fiber per day to keep us (and them) in the healthiest state possible.

Fiber and Elimination

The title of a popular children’s book sums it up nicely: “Everyone Poops.” Elimination is a natural part of our physiology, even if we don’t like to talk about it. Getting rid of our excess waste should be a daily, comfortable, effortless, and clean experience. We shouldn’t require reading material or need 6 feet of toilet paper to finish the job. The entire process should be as effortless as the elimination.

But for many, maintaining regular bowel habits is a challenge, managed by consuming coffee in the morning, taking magnesium at night, or adding in other herbal products designed to prevent constipation. Without adequate fiber in the diet, which adds bulk to the stool, this can be an ongoing struggle that makes everyone miserable, including your gut bacteria.

How to Get Started

The average American diet includes 12-15 grams of fiber per day as compared to the 30 – 40 grams needed to optimize microbial health and ensure regular elimination. But fair warning: adding in too much fiber too quickly can cause uncomfortable digestive symptoms, including bloating, gas, and even constipation. It’s better to start slowly and increase as tolerated after you see how your body responds to the increased fiber amount.

Our recommendation is to try and obtain your daily fiber intake from real food as compared to taking it in supplement form. There is a time and place for supplemental fiber, as in during a cleanse, but it’s better to incorporate fiber-rich foods as part of your regular diet.

Keeping your intestinal bacteria well-fed and happy requires ongoing attention. However, the payoffs are significant! Having regular elimination and the assurance that your gut microbes are receiving the nutrients they need to keep you healthy is a wonderful feeling! 

Patient Testimonials

Dr Don Sharnowski is a doctor who is above and beyond all other doctors! Probably his most outstanding quality is that he LISTENS to what his patients say. He is willing to explain things to his patients in terms they can understand. Dr Don treats his patients with wisdom, understanding, gentleness, care, encouragement and he is willing to "go the extra mile" to give his patients the proper treatment they need. He does not treat patients like they were on an assembly line or like he is rushing them out the door. Dr Don has fixed many of the problems I had at my first visit, one of which I had endured for 3 years. Dr Don was able to fix that problem in 2 weeks when others had not. Dr Don has also helped me loose 40 lbs so far. My total recovery is still an ongoing process, but should be a cinch with Dr Don's expert help! Thank you, Dr Don! You are an awesome answer to prayers!

Karen G.

Super Awesome Doctor in Overland Park, Kansas!! He really knows his stuff love his Holistic approach. Wish I lived closer so I could see him on the regular, at least we can chat on the regular! Very informative in all aspects of health! Five years ago this man took our health and turned it around 360 degrees. My son got ear infections very often. Both my boys have respiratory issues. My husband asthma and overweight. Myself aches and pains, specifically on my left side and joints. Well needless to say no more ear infections respiratory not nearly as often my husband is 80lbs less and never uses his inhaler . My sons ear infections...What ear infections...They are no longer! Thanks Dr. Don for all you do and have done!!

Lots of Love from The Stevens

Dr Don Sharnowski is truly an amazing Doctor. He listens to his patients and treats in a very complete way. He is very knowledgeable because he never stops learning. He is a great communicator and will help you learn better ways to be healthy if you will actually do what he teaches.

Cassie N.

Don (Dr Sharnowski) is truly one of a kind. He is warm, inviting and incredibly generous with his time, but also really knowledgeable about the body and everything within. You won't find crystal balls here. You'll find a super nice guy in sneakers who also sells farm fresh eggs at the counter. I went in expecting to get adjusted (and was scared, because I'd never seen a chiro before). Instead, what I experienced was someone who actually sat down and listened to my history, connected the dots between several ailments (instead of jumping to prescribe one drug apiece to treat each one), and explained things that no one had ever taken the time to do. I was there about my back specifically, but we talked about my whole health. Instead of just prescribing an anti inflammatory (which is what my other doc did), he explained why we get inflammation in our bodies, and how to help reduce it with what we eat. I've also been on thyroid medication for over 10 years, and he actually explained what the thyroid is, and what the drug I take is, and what it does. But not in a defensive or overly crunchy way. He just openly explained in a way that I could understand it. I highly recommend Don to anyone with a body who wants to feel better. His approach is approachably holistic. Just common sense, whole body-centered treatment.

Megh K.

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