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Fibre and the Human Biome

This is for David again - it’s his favourite topic!

Another Catalyst inspiration - last night’s program was a repeat of part one of a study of the human biome and this program was particularly on about high fibre foods. So this is my topic for today - high fibre foods (with a nod to the human biome). It’s a great picture though isn’t it? I think it’s saying the doughnut will kill all the good stuff. Which was basically the thesis of the program.


We’ve all heard David give us his lecture on the human biome and pooh transfers. So I won’t go on about it - I’ll just ramble at a tangent a bit.

The basic premise is that we are full of bacteria which make us healthy and the more variety we have the better. Natural childbirth, breastfeeding, not being super clean - all these things help of course. A healthy biome seems to prevent just about everything nasty - including cancer. Well let’s just assume this is true - though you would have to wonder why people in the past who ate a lot of fibre still suffered from these things. Anyway - won’t go there. According to current thinking though - the ancients were inadvertently right - proved by a study of this African tribe who basically live like prehistoric man - still hunting and gathering - and who have the healthiest human biome on the planet. Whether they are the healthiest people I am not so sure. Because I imagine they are prone to various awful tropical diseases and also to parasites - not to mention accidents. So there’s more to health than just a healthy biome. I’m not saying it’s unimportant - I think it’s probably extremely desirable but it’s surely more complicated than that. Anyway do encourage your babies to eat dirt - well that’s the logical conclusion isn’t it?

“you’ve got to eat a peck of dirt before you die” Grandma

Well it’s an old saying really but she used to say it often. A peck is quite a lot - 8 quarts - around 8 litres - and I think it means you shouldn’t be too careful about being clean - hear, hear - that’s how you build up resistance to the nasty bugs.

This is Bryn building up his. There’s a picture of Abby and Baden eating dirts somewhere I think, so they should all be alright.

But back to fibre. Fibre is sort of associated in my mind with earnest organic kind of people - nowadays urban hipsters would probably fall into this category. Damp woolly clothes, beanies - well those hats with the plaits and mud for some reason. Bit unfair I guess. But there used to be lots of earnest high fibre diets that had lots of things like brown rice in them. I did try to be a bit better about eating things like brown rice and wholegrain bread for a while but basically it didn’t appeal. Or rather it was probably too much like hard work. Nowadays this type of approach is heavy on ‘ancient grains’ - the dreaded quinoa, et al. Anyway high fibre cereals and lentils are not, of course, the only things with high fibre - though they do of course help. I found an article on the Huffington Post which listed the fourteen foods with most fibre and they are: apples, pears, parsnips, broccoli, brussels sprouts, carrots, spinach, whole grains, quinoa, amaranth, legumes, beans, flax seeds and chia seeds. Of these the top is beans followed by chia seeds - which are no doubt one of those urban hipster foods you can find in the health food section of your supermarket. Note - the dreaded quinoa is in there - apparently it’s technically a seed not a grain - but then surely grains are seeds? Isn’t wheat the seed part of the grass that it is? So I think they are splitting hairs here. (No nuts in the list I notice.) But most of the other things are pretty tasty.

Beans - probably they mean dried beans - so are baked beans on toast (whole grain of course) one of the best things you can eat? I know that when Carole and I were in America with almost no money, we ate a lot of baked beans. Baked beans and baked potatoes was often our dinner. We reckoned baking the potatoes was good because it gave us the skins which were the nutritious part - and the fibre too. The beans were our protein. I guess green beans are included too - pity they are so expensive at the moment.

Today we are having roast beef for dinner with roasted vegetables - parsnips and carrots are in the list on the previous page but alas I don’t have any brussels sprouts. I do have cabbage though and lots of the pictures I found of high fibre foods had cabbage in them.

So lots of fibre in the diet - its the same old, same old story really. Processed food is bad for you, mushy food is not good either.

The last part of the program had the presenter and a young gymnast eating rubbish food (hamburger, chips and iced doughnuts) and then being tested for something - I now can’t remember what it was - but basically the human biome was worse off somehow. I think that’s right anyway. So don’t eat iced doughnuts.

To finish - I’m not sure I fully understand the relationship between high fibre food and increasing the variety of the human biome, but I guess I should just take their word for it. If you Google it I'm sure you will find real research. And fibre does seem to have been a constant theme over the decades. Food fads may come and food fads may go, but fibre in one way or another has been there all along.

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