Increase Fiber for Teens and Don’t Worry So Much About the Fat

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found a three-fold increase in metabolic syndrome in children eating the least amount of dietary fiber when compared to the group eating the most. There were no differences when consumption of saturated fat or cholesterol was analyzed however.

The researchers recommend focusing on increasing fiber in the diet, and not worrying so much about finding low-fat foods. That does not mean teens should fill their diets with fat-filled foods, but it does mean seeking out nutrient-dense foods high in fiber.

Most low-fat foods today are those processed foods that have been filled with sugar to make up for lack of taste that comes with low-fat options. Replacing fat with sugar in foods is what has contributed to the current obesity and diabetes epidemic this country now faces. Up to 30 percent of teen’s dietary intake comes from beverages and sugary snacks.

But change can be tough. Joseph Carlson, the lead researcher, stated, “The trick is getting people into the groove finding the foods that they enjoy and that are convenient.”

The statistics are screaming at us from many different sources. Our diets and lifestyle have to change in order for us to see significant health improvements. This begins in childhood. ReNew Life founder Brenda Watson recommends that adults consume at least 35 grams of fiber daily. For children and teens, we recommend adding 5 grams to their age. So a 13-year-old should eat 18 grams of fiber daily. How can you add fiber back into your diet, and the diet of your family? For more information, visit ReNew Life’s fiber supplements page.

Diet and the Gut

The human gut is home to thousands of different bacterial species, totaling 100 trillion bacterial cells—that’s about four pounds of bacteria, or the weight of a brick. The composition of this bacterial population (also known as the gut microbiota), is currently being studied.

A new study by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, published in Science, takes the findings further. This new study found two major gut types—Bacteroides and Prevotella—based on gut bacterial population groups in 98 healthy volunteers who were asked to fill out questionnaires that assessed dietary habits. Stool samples were collected to determine their gut microbiota composition.

The researchers found a link between dietary habits and gut types. People who ate a diet high in meat and saturated fat were higher in Bacteroides bacteria, and people who had a diet high in carbohydrates had more Prevotella bacteria. Researchers then took ten volunteers and fed half of them a diet high in fat and low in fiber, and fed the other half a low-fat, high-fiber diet. By the end of ten days, the bacterial populations had begun to change but were still predominantly the same Bacteroides and Prevotella groups. This indicates that it’s possible to change the gut microbiota with diet, but it will take more than a short-term change to see any major difference.

Next steps will be to replicate these findings to confirm them and to take the studies further by looking at whether these gut types are associated with health. It’s an exciting area of research, working out the details of what health advocates like ReNew Life founder Brenda Watson has said all along—your gut is the foundation of the health of the rest of your body. It all begins in the gut!