Common wisdom says that eating a high-fat, high-calorie diet is the primary cause of obesity and diabetes. But new research is casting doubt on this mantra. And if this study is accurate, it could point to a simple way to prevent weight gain, insulin resistance, and diabetes. What's more, it also gives us a solution to a number of digestive issues.
In this study on mice, researchers started with an assumption. They suspected that low-grade inflammation was part of the problem. In this case, you might think that the best way to treat the problem would be to treat the inflammation. But that's not the case. The reason is because the inflammation came from an altered gut microbiome.
A microbiome is a community of bacteria and other microorganisms. It can live in the intestines, the mouth, on the skin, and elsewhere. It plays a vital role in maintaining your overall health. In the intestines, the gut microbiota helps you digest food, produce vitamins, and fight foreign microorganisms. When the gut microbiota changes, it can cause all sorts of gastrointestinal diseases. These can include inflammatory bowel disease and metabolic diseases, such as type-2 diabetes and obesity.
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This change in the health of the gut is where treatment has to start. That's because the researchers found that the inflammation and the altered gut microbiome had the same cause. And this cause also provides us with the solution — a diet missing soluble fiber.
In the mice, the researchers found that those with the least soluble fiber in their diet, the more inflammation they had in their intestines. This led to poor gut health, including shorter intestines and thinner intestinal walls (which leak much easier). These structural changes occurred just two days after avoiding soluble fiber. And all of this causes weight gain.
The good news is the treatment was very simple. All they had to do to fix the gut problem, the inflammation, the weight gain, and the diabetes was to incorporate soluble fiber back into the diet.
But it had to be the soluble fiber inulin. The mice that took cellulose, an insoluble fiber, didn't show any improvements.
What's more, when the researchers fed the mice a high-fat diet, the soluble fiber protected the mice from fat accumulation and intestinal wasting. All because the fiber corrected the damaged microbiome.
So if you're looking to lose weight, reverse diabetes and pre-diabetes, and solve digestive issues, you have to take 30 grams of soluble fiber every day. You can get a lot of this dose from fresh fruit and veggies. But I also like organic psyllium whole husks (3½ grams of soluble fiber per serving) and a product called PGX. Depending on which product you buy, you'll get 2-2½ grams of soluble fiber with each dose of PGX. Take PGX 10 minutes before you eat and you'll notice it reduces your appetite and heals your gut. I include the psyllium seed in my juice, smoothies, eggs, and anything else that I can mix it in. It doesn't have much of a flavor, so it's easy to hide.
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Benoit Chassaing, Jennifer Miles-Brown, Michael Pellizzon, Edward Ulman, Matthew Ricci, Limin Zhang, Andrew D. Patterson, Matam Vijay-Kumar, Andrew T. Gewirtz. Lack of soluble fiber drives diet-induced adiposity in mice. American Journal of Physiology - Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology, 2015; 309 (7): G528 DOI: 10.1152/ajpgi.00172.2015