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When you bump up your plant intake, you’ll naturally increase the amount of fiber you’re eating, but make it a point to include plenty of high-fiber foods, like beans, chia seeds, flaxseeds, lentils, berries, and psyllium, into your day. 

Fiber, especially prebiotic fiber, feeds your gut bacteria and when it’s metabolized, short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) are produced in the process. According to gastroenterologist and gut health expert Will Bulsiewicz, M.D., MSCI, SCFAs balance your gut (increase good bacteria while pushing out bad), support your immune system, lower cholesterol, regulate blood sugar, and improve brain function. “They are the currency of gut health,” he says. “And we get them exclusively from prebiotic fiber.”

Head’s up: If your diet is low in fiber now, it’s a good idea to slowly introduce high fiber foods over a period of a couple weeks. This gives your gut time to adjust to the change. If you eat too much fiber too quickly, it can cause gas buildup that leads to uncomfortable issues like bloating, stomach discomfort, and flatulence.

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