What’s the one dietary habit? Eat more fiber.
There is a lot of confusing information about what healthy eating looks like. Is a low-fat or high-fat diet the best? Is eating meat good or bad for you? Should you fast periodically or eat every hour?
Probably the best advice that sorts through all the various studies comes from author Michael Pollen who, in his book “In Defense of Food,” sums up the advice from dietary research:
“Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”
What he means by “eat food” is to avoid highly-processed food-like substances. He advises only eating food that your great-grandparents would recognize. Another way is to focus on the fiber content of food. Foods high in fiber tend to fit Pollen’s definition of “food” and fit the “mostly plants” directive.
High-fiber diets are associated with myriad health benefits:
- Decreased risk of four major diseases: A 2019 meta-study of over 243 studies found that people who ate at least 25-29 grams of fiber a day lowered their risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and colon cancer, as well as their risk of dying early from any cause, by 15% to 30%.
- Longevity: A 2008 study found that “every additional 10 g of recent dietary fiber intake per day reduced coronary heart disease mortality by 17% and all-cause mortality by 9%.”
- Weight loss: Fiber consumption promotes weight-loss because it causes satiety and slows down digestion which helps your body better manage blood sugar levels. An especially interesting study on this point from 2019 had participants follow one of four diets with various macronutrient targets (low-fat/high protein, low-fat/average protein, high-fat/high protein, high-fat/average protein). The participants lost weight with all four diet plans but by digging into the data, the researchers found that dietary fiber consumption was associated with the greatest weight loss.
- Healthy Gut: Fiber consumption promotes healthy gut bacteria which provide metabolic, cardiovascular, hormonal, and even neurologic benefits.
But not all fiber is created equal. Experts advise getting fiber from whole foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and beans; fiber supplements or processed foods with bulking fiber added don’t provide the same benefits. Note that meat contains zero fiber and processed foods contain little to no fiber.
Food First. Supplements are intended to be “supplemental” to one’s diet when, if, as needed, and individualized not generalized. Supplements are often pharmacological doses and food is not, absorption and bioavailability of nutrients is also a key to nutrition and dietary recommendations. Dosing with food is far safer than dosing with supplements. Food tastes good AND if you really want to read cool up and coming research on the relationship of food and wellness, check out neurogastronomy. The multitude of benefits derived from eating whole/real food cannot be replaced by a pill. Supplements of nutrients are recommended when needed to address single nutrient deficiency, poor status, other medical reasons that interfere with someone’s ability to consume, digest, absorb, metabolize nutrient(s). For example, someone with iron deficiency anemia
Micheal Pollen is the best- his writing about food and nutrition is excellent and credible, he does an excellent job translating complex nutritional science for everyday readers and his messaging is clear and straight forward.
This is a terrific IFOD.
Michael Pollan is an American treasure .
He is a remarkable human with all that that means He has done the deep research on food , gardening and other subjects to help people .
Thank you for bringing this subject to our attention!
Happy New Year!
The Balance of Nature (eat more vegetables via pills) needs to be investigated.
Talking with pharma the pitch does help. I still am not convinced
Agreed. I, too, am skeptical of fruits and veggies in a pill.