Protect Your Health with Fiber

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You don’t need an expensive diet to help protect your gut. A recent study published in mBio indicates that when healthy adults consume a minimum of 8 to 10 grams of soluble fiber per day, they have less antibiotic-resistant bacteria in their bowels. The study was conducted by Agricultural Research Service scientists.

Microbes that have become resistant to regularly-used antibiotics (including tetracycline and aminoglycoside) can be a major risk for individuals globally as the potential resistance of bacteria, viruses, and fungi is expected to accelerate for years to come. This is termed antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

In humans, AMR is mainly based in the gut microbiome, a place where bacteria are normally able to survive exposure to antibiotics due to genetically-driven methods.

Lead author and molecular biologist Danielle Lemay of the ARS Western Human Nutrition Research Center in Davis, California believes that eating enough diverse fiber consistently can help reduce the risk of AMR.

The researchers evaluated the link between levels of antibiotic-resistant genes in the human gut microbes with fiber and animal protein in 209 subjects. 

Scientists discovered that consistently consuming a diet with more fiber and less protein, particularly from beef and pork, was significantly associated with lower levels of antimicrobial-resistant genes (ARG) in their gut bacteria.

Individuals with the lowest amount of ARG in their gut bacteria had a larger number of strict anaerobic microbes. These bacteria do not survive when oxygen is nearby and represent a healthy gut with low inflammation. The most abundant bacteria found was in the Clostridiaceae family.

Animal protein in the diet did not predict high amounts of ARG, but higher amounts of soluble fiber in the diet were linked with lower levels of ARGs. Diversity in soluble fiber may be the key to maximum benefit.

Soluble fiber dissolves in water. It is the mainly found in grains including barley and oats as well as legumes, lentils, peas, chia seeds, nuts, carrots, berries, broccoli, artichokes, and winter squash.

Individuals with the highest levels of ARG in their gut bacteria were noted to have less diverse gut microbiomes when compared to those with low and medium levels of ARG.

The study suggests we are able to modify our gut microbiome to lessen AMR through what we eat.

As this was an observational study, more research is needed to confirm that dietary patterns could lessen the chance of antibiotic-resistance infections.

In the meantime, more dietary fiber can’t hurt. Here are ways to obtain more soluble fiber:

  • Include beans, peas, lentils, or other legumes in salads, soups, or grain dishes.
  • Choose oatmeal or oat-based cereal at breakfast. Try overnight oats in warmer months.
  • Add berries to yogurt or salads.
  • Try barley in a grain bowl or a side dish.
  • Make chia pudding or add chia seeds to cereal or yogurt.
  • Roast broccoli and carrots or include them in a stir fry.
  • Add artichokes to salads or pasta dishes.

By Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD, LD


  1. Andrew Oliver, Zhengyao Xue, Yirui T. Villanueva, Blythe Durbin-Johnson, Zeynep Alkan, Diana H. Taft, Jinxin Liu, Ian Korf, Kevin D. Laugero, Charles B. Stephensen, David A. Mills, Mary E. Kable, Danielle G. Lemay. Association of Diet and Antimicrobial Resistance in Healthy U.S. AdultsmBio, 2022; DOI: 10.1128/mbio.00101-22
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