Have We Forgotten About Fiber?

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Have We Forgotten About Fiber?

Some of the newest trends in healthy eating include going Gluten Free (whether you are intolerant, Celiac, or just want to eliminate it) and The Paleo Diet. Both diets can be maintained if you continue to do things in moderation and eat healthy whole foods. But one thing to be aware of is neither of these food plans have much fiber. Our bodies need fiber to properly digest and maintain a nice clean digestive tract. While fats, protein, and carbohydrates are digested and absorbed, fiber is not. Think of it as little scrub brushes for our intestines.

There are 2 different kinds of fiber; soluble and insoluble. The easiest way to remember the difference is:

Soluble: mixes with water and forms a gel-like substance that swells, slowing digestion, giving you the feeling of fullness. It also slows the absorption of sugars, which aids in reducing the risk of Type 2 Diabetes.

Examples: oats, oatmeal, legumes (peas, beans and lentils) barley, fruits and vegetables (especially apples, oranges and carrots).

Insoluble: does not absorb or dissolve in water, It speeds up the digestion process by adding bulk to the stool. This prevents sluggishness by food passing more quickly through the stomach and intestines. It also decreases the occurrence of hemorrhoids, and constipation.

Examples include: bran layers (as in brown rice) and cereal grains.

Dietary Fiber is found only in plant products (i.e. nuts, whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables). Most Americans fall short of the recommended daily requirements.

Recommended Daily Intake according to the Institute of Medicine:

50 and younger 51 and older

Men 38 grams 30 grams

Women 25 grams 21 grams

You are considered constipated if you do not have one bowel movement a day, straining, hard stools, incomplete bowel movements or discomfort or any sort around elimination. You may experience other symptoms, including: fatigue, brain fog, aches and pains elsewhere in the body. Once you become constipated, you want to correct the problem as quickly and painlessly as possible. When you do not eliminate daily, your body is in a toxic state. If you suffer from persistent constipation see your doctor. One of their suggestions may be to take a chemical laxative. Before you do, think about the alternatives. Add (or increase) these natural suggestions at the first sign of sluggishness. The key is to not let your constipation become severe enough where you need medical attention.

Fiber Supplements – Psyllium is the active ingredient in many fiber supplements available over the counter. It can absorb 14 times its weight in water. However, most products have inactive ingredients, many include sugar, that should be avoided.

GOOD SOURCES OF FIBER:

Food % DV**/serving

Strawberries 10% = 1 cup

Spinach 16% = 1 cup steamed

Raspberries 30% = 1 cup

Broccoli 18% = 1 cup steamed

Pinto Beans 55% = 1 cup cooked

WAYS TO INCREASE YOUR FIBER –

  • Whole Vegetables and Fruits (with peel, skin, etc.) instead of juices
  • Whole Grain Bread, pasta and cereals, not overly processed refined counterparts.
  • Whole Wheat Flour, not White Flour
  • Brown Rice, not White Rice
  • Beans or other legumes in meals, not meat.

Fruit versus Fruit Juice – Many food programs will allow whole fruit, but not fruit juice. The reason is that the whole fruit contains fiber, where as the juice does not. Fiber slows down the absorption of sugar.

For those of you who are Gluten Free, it is a little more complicated, but not much. The number one thing to remember is that many of the prepackaged GF items in the store have very little fiber, and lots of sugar to increase the taste. Our taste buds are not used to the flours and grains that are sometimes used in GF foods. So, to insure out enjoyment of these items, sugar is added. So, just read the label.

Make the change to more fiber gradually. It will take your digestive system a little while to adjust. And, as you increase the amount of fiber in your diet, remember to increase the amount of water you drink to help ease the passage through your digestive tract.

Implementing these tips into your diet will help keep your Digestive tract happy and healthy.

** Daily Value

 

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