We all know that it’s important to include certain nutrients in our diet to keep ourselves healthy. Vitamin C, calcium, iron, the B vitamins... but one that is often overlooked is fibre.
Government guidelines and health experts state that we need at least 30g of fibre every day to stay healthy. But current data from the British Nutrition Foundation shows that most of us are only averaging about 20g. That’s a big fibre gap!
If you’ve ever tallied up how much fibre you eat each day, you might be shocked as to how much you're falling short of that target!
Yet fibre plays a crucial role in supporting and boosting our immune system and looking after our overall health. Especially prebiotic fibre...
Below we’ll look at the difference between fibre and prebiotic fibre, and how meeting your daily fibre targets can support your immune system!
What’s the difference between fibre and prebiotic fibre?
Fibre is a non-digestible plant-derived carbohydrate. In general, its most well-known benefits include helping to bulk out our poo, keeping us fuller for longer, enhancing our gut health and helping to keep serious diseases at bay.
Prebiotic fibre is a type of fibre, but it has a more specific role… It's a fibre that's fermented by a variety of beneficial bacteria in our gut. It's a source of 'food' for them, and it can help to boost their numbers. But, crucially, as it's processed by these bacteria, it creates beneficial compounds that our body can use!
The average adult needs between 3-5g of prebiotic fibre a day to maintain good gut health — and this is included in your total 30g fibre target.
As an example, our collection of prebiotic sparkling water here at Jamu Wild Water contains 100% of your daily prebiotic requirements (5g in every can)! And 17% of your total daily fibre requirements.
How does eating fibre support your immune system?
Over 70% of our immune system is located in the gut, which is a huge portion of our body’s defence system!
Our gut wall is a layered mix that includes: our gut microbiome, a mucus membrane, intestinal epithelial cells (the cells that make up our villi etc.), and our immune cells!
Over the last few decades, scientists have discovered that the bacteria of our gut microbiome are in constant communication with the immune cells found in our gut...
Producing useful compounds for the immune system.
Both fibre and prebiotics help to modulate our immune system. But what happens in our gut after eating a lentil salad or drinking a can of Jamu Wild Water?
Fibre helps to improve digestion by bulking out our stool, lowering cholesterol and glucose levels, and providing some support to the immune system.
But it's Prebiotic Fibre that has the biggest immune-boosting effects... When prebiotic fibre is fermented by our gut bacteria, beneficial short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) are produced.
These SCFAs can stimulate immune cell activity. Activating them to defend and fight against pathogens and also unusual cell changes or mutations.
Our body cannot produce SCFAs itself — which shows just how vital it is to meet your daily prebiotic fibre requirements!
Training the immune system
From birth, our gut microbiome has been training our bodies to learn which microorganisms are beneficial (or harmful!). Our gut microbiome is essentially strengthening and training our immune system as it communicates with our immune cells (e.g. T-cells).
Data has highlighted that people who had antibiotics as babies may be more likely to develop autoimmune diseases and gut health issues (like IBS) as adults.
This shows how vital our gut microbiome is in early life. But the connection between our gut microbiome and immune system remains important throughout our lives too. And it’s also the reason why keeping your gut microbiome healthy is so important.
Prebiotic fibre helps to boost the gut microbiome — increasing the ratio of good vs bad bacteria and enhancing their long-term survival. A healthy and diverse gut microbiome keeps our immune system well-trained and working at its best.
Fabulous prebiotic fibre!
So, when our gut microbiome has a good supply of prebiotic fibre, it helps to...
- identify threats and train our immune system
- produce vital nutrients that keep our immune system functioning efficiently
What else does prebiotic fibre do?
As prebiotic fibre boosts the population of bacteria in our gut microbiome and strengthens our immune system, we benefit in other ways too…
With a more diverse gut microbiome, our health and well-being will improve in lots of ways including… improved mental health, boosted energy levels, better nutrient absorption and digestion, and, of course, improved bowel movements — always important!
Related read | Why is Prebiotic Fibre So Good For You?
How to get more prebiotic fibre in your diet!
Now that you know the fascinating links between fibre and your immune system, how do you get more fibre in your diet? Particularly prebiotic fibre!
3 ways to introduce more prebiotic fibre into your diet…
Drink a can of Jamu Wild Water! In every can you’ll find 100% of your daily prebiotic requirements (and 17% of your fibre RDA!).
Introduce more legumes into your diet. This could be as simple as swapping out or reducing meat by half in your recipes and replacing it with lentils.
Alliums like leeks, onions and garlic are a good source of prebiotic fibre, so make sure you’re adding plenty of these to your recipes too!