Did you know that some eating habits—like consuming too many chemical sweeteners or eating too close to bedtime—can harm your gut health?

While these habits may seem innocent enough at first, they can actually have a negative impact on your gut microbiome. Because your gut is so closely connected to the rest of your body, it’s important to keep it healthy at all times.

To learn more about the habits potentially wrecking our gut health, we talked with two experts medical experts and each of them pointed out that one of the worst eating habits you can have for your gut is not getting enough fiber in your diet.

Here’s why fiber is so important for your gut, and for more healthy eating tips make sure to check out The 7 Healthiest Foods To Eat Right Now.

You need fiber for a healthy gut

fiber rich foods

fiber rich foods

According to Kayla Girgen, RD, LD, founder of Nutrition Untapped, getting adequate amounts of fiber is a key factor in maintaining your gut health.

“A high-fiber diet provides food for the bacteria in your gut to feed on, which then encourages the production of SCFAs (short-chain fatty acids),” says Girgen. “These SCFAs are crucial to your health because they increase water absorption and decrease inflammation within our digestive tract.”

Girgen also notes that diets higher in processed foods and added sugars like the Standard American Diet (SAD) are far too low in fiber, “which reduces the variety of gut bacteria since many of the microorganisms in our gut feed on fiber.”

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Lisa Moskovitz, RD, CEO of NY Nutrition Group, author of The Core 3 Healthy Eating Plan, and a member of our medical expert board, points out that even when people pursue a higher-protein diet to meet their health or weight loss goals, they may end up eating fewer plant-based foods and an excess of animal products, which will result in too little fiber.

Even though this type of high-protein diet can help some people lose weight, this lack of fiber may potentially wreck your gut health without you realizing it.

Without plant-based foods, your body misses out on key nutrients such as various types of gut-friendly fiber and anti-inflammatory antioxidants, which is why it’s important to look for higher-fiber carbs such as beans, lentils, fresh fruits, fresh veggies, whole grains, and bran products,” says Moskovitz.

If you aren’t getting enough fiber in your diet, you may feel things like bloating, fatigue, constipation, or hunger. If you experience these things on a regular basis, it may be time to care for your gut health by checking in on the amount of fiber you’re getting from day to day.

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