A few weeks ago we mentioned a study (another in the long list) which showed that physical activity is one of our most potent disease-prevention tactics and that there was a fairly clear dose-response relationship, where "more" is generally "better". Yet, also tucked into the findings was one of the most consistent and powerful details - physical activity has a strong front-end benefit - meaning, we get a LOT of the risk-reduction in the very first few minutes of invested time; as much as a 10% risk reduction in the first 60 seconds done with consistency. Yes, compared to those who do nothing, even 1 minute per day can give a positive return on the time and effort invested.
Some past research has shown a similar concept when it comes to eating habits. When people with predominantly highly processed diets begin on healthier food, even a little, their bodies start to reconfigure the microbiome (bacteria and other microbes in the intestine, etc) to produce more healthy reactions almost instantly. It's one of the reasons why we so frequently coach clients to "eat more plants", to take full advantage of the significant front-end benefits of fiber as a "prebiotic". Although mostly indigestible, it acts as a critical FUEL for the good-bacteria in our gut and ushers a cascade of healthy reactions as soon as we add it to the mix.
But what about those of us who may have a harder time getting started? Maybe those who see the inertia of dietary change as a daunting uphill climb that feels like giving up food-favorites or treats that are closer to the elusive "golden-ratio" of salt-sugar-fat known to strike the bliss-chord in our brains? Or maybe those of us who just don't know where to begin when it comes to fresh fruits and veggies? In these cases, the conclusions of 2 new studies from a team at Duke University out this week, may provide a starting point:
Conclusion 1: For individuals at the lowest end of the fiber-consumption spectrum, 3 different types of fermentable supplements (inulin, dextrin [Benefiber], and GOS [marketed as Bimuno]) all seemed to have a similar impact, almost immediately. This impact was not as significant for individuals who started with the highest baseline of plant consumption and (therefore) gut-diversity.
Conclusion 2: Our gut biome seems to have a memory (of sorts). So, not only do we get an almost instant impact when we put "good stuff" in, it gets easier and easier (we get more and more efficient) as we build toward consistency.
If we distill it all the way down to its fundamentals, a lot like what we know about exercise, for those that are not already achieving the optimal pattern (eating lots of fiber-packed plant foods), just about ANYTHING is infinitely better than nothing...and the return on effort is almost instant.
It's a great time of year to reap the health benefits of a strong garden yield. Clearly the research says even a little can go a long way - so if you've got extra, consider sharing. It could be the start of something BIG like it was for this family 20 years ago. If you need inspiration, check out the photo above from our friends in the Bronx, NY!
Have a great weekend,