Cancel OK

Focus on fiber this holiday season

lara ramdin dole pbh

The Thanksgiving-to-New Year, six-week holiday time is known for tempting consumers to overeat and indulge in unhealthy food and drink, so the timing of a Produce for Better Health Foundation BB #:157162 webinar is fortunate.

Dr. Lara Ramdin, chief innovation officer for Dole Sunshine Company, educated an audience on the importance of one’s gut microbiome, but gut health is really quite simple, she said.

It’s this: Eat a diverse variety of fruits and vegetables and get enough fiber.

“Fiber is the key to a good diet, especially if it’s from fruits and vegetables,” she said during the December 14 webinar.

She said only about 5 percent of U.S. consumers meet the daily requirement for fiber in their diet.

Our microbiome is responsible for digesting food and regulating our immune system, and the microbes in it outnumber the cells in our bodies 10 to 1, Ramdin said.

While it’s crucial to our health, the science is still inconclusive on the effectiveness of prebiotics and probiotics, especially when they are dietary supplements, she said.

“As a consumer, this plethora of products is difficult to navigate,” Ramdin said.

What is known is that our gut microbiome needs dietary diversity, and the magic number is 30 different plant foods per week to be healthy and happy, she said.

“Fruits and vegetables are a goldmine of nutrition.”

She gave a few other diet tips for this critical time of year.

One is the importance of the gut-brain axis. That is, food and mental health are certainly connected.

“Diet is recognized as a modifiable risk factor and treatment for mental illness,” Ramdin said.

The other is the importance of getting enough and regular sleep. People’s blood sugars spike when their circadian rhythm is disrupted, which also disrupts metabolism.

“Diet is meaningless if we don’t get enough sleep,” Ramdin said. “Weekend catch-up sleep does not overcome lack of sleep during the week.”

PBH says this is all more evidence of its motto, “Food rooted in a better mood.”


Greg Johnson is Director of Media Development for Blue Book Services