Imagine if you had a house party of all your absolutely favorite people. Your best friend from college. Your seventh grade English teacher. Stu (a guy so decent and kind and sweet that when you and your friends recovered from broken hearts and announced “All men are dogs!” and then someone would say “Well, there’s Stu…” everyone would have to allow that maybe not ALL men were dogs). This is the house party of your dreams.
Better yet, Benny – the annoying not-really-a-friend who insists you’ve been besties for decades – just HATES Stu, so Benny won’t arrive unannounced for as long as Stu is in residence. Bonus!
If all those beloved people were happiest when provided with a high-fiber diet that included lots of fresh veggies and fruits, you’d buy them that, wouldn’t you? You’d want to keep this outstanding house party going for absolutely as long as you possibly could. Who wouldn’t? You could sneak out and buy some chocolate chip cookies every now and then and nosh them while no one was looking, but you’d sure come back home laden with grocery bags from Whole Foods.
I mean – it’s STU. He’s AWESOME.
This is an analogy, of course. (Except for how fab Stu is; I’ll give him a shout-out on Facebook and maybe he’ll leave a comment so you know there are men in this world who can restore the female faith in masculinity.)
The analogy comes to me courtesy of this DA BOMB article forwarded to me by Chip, the nutritionist at Body Dynamics in Falls Church, VA. If you’re the kind of person who likes your facts straight, check out the link, here: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/01/science/food-fiber-microbiome-inflammation.html?_r=0
But if you’re okay with my “Idiot’s Guide” version, here’s what I learned:
There’s this whole house party in your gut. There’s a huge gathering of benevolent bacteria – like, many, MANY different kinds – performing critical tasks for your health that you didn’t even know were necessary. If you give them high fiber foods like veggies and fruit, if you stay low on the fat and sugar stuff, then the house party is the kind of place that others will envy and wish they could go to, too.
And while that house party is in full swing, Benny – also known as diabetes, heart disease, and SHUT UP arthritis (really?!) – will pretty much stay away. (The connection was pretty clear for me between eating healthfully and both diabetes and heart disease – but to learn that you could keep arthritis away simply by including a lot of fiber in your diet?? Yeah, that surprised me.)
Mumsy always said primly, “Eat your broccoli. It’s nature’s broom.” I never really understood that, except for thinking that broccoli, held upside down, might look a bit broom-like, but when pressed, she would only add “It will sweep away all the bad things.”
Mumsy had it wicked wrong; broccoli won’t sweep away bad things. It will nourish and delight some very, very GOOD things in the intestines. I think that what she meant was that it would help avoid constipation (although who would say that to a small child? I certainly don’t blame her for omitting that part!). And in that she was right – because if the bacteria in your innards are lifted off the walls of the intestines by a nice, healthy mucous coat, then everything slides along more smoothly.
(Don’t believe those cough medicine commercials that imply that mucous is nasty, green, redneck blob things. In the gut, a good coating of mucous is like a butler and maid for your house party, so good at their jobs that you don’t have to lift a finger other than to simply enjoy yourself and relish the absence of Benny.)
Chip gave me the breakfast recipe I eat every day. At first I thought it was yogurt with good things mixed in (nuts, pumpkin seeds, wheat germ, fresh fruit, a drizzle of honey or maple syrup if the fruit is winter-dull), but now I know that the yogurt (which has better press on gut health than any of the other things) is only the beginning of the glory. I’m actually eating many, many high-fiber foods that are fueling the house party and protecting me from conditions I never suspected could harm me.
Chip told me not to get set in my ways; to mix yogurt days with oatmeal days – and to mix up my nuts, my seeds, my fruit. I DO get set in my ways; I have walnuts and cashews and almonds in the cupboard, but I only reach for the walnuts, and I have a real lust for pumpkin seeds… but now that I realize the house party needs many, many different sources of fiber, I’m going to make more of an effort to mix things up. And even eat oatmeal more than twice in the last six months. (Oatmeal and I are not particularly happy with each other, but for the houseguests that I love? I can choke it down!)
Adorable Stu, when we were in college. Isn’t he dreamy? He has the nicest wife and smartest daughter now. Sigh. What a prince!