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Unless you have been living under a rock for the last decade or so, you have heard about how you need fiber to help with digestion.
I also can understand why that would make people not take it seriously for their health, because digestion is just pooping, right?
Most of us these days have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart disease, obesity…. Did you know low fiber intake could be causing all of these?
Even if the illness is caused by something else, low fiber intake can definitely make it worse.
So what the heck is fiber and why should you care?
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How Fiber Creates a Working Body
Okay, I get it, fiber isn’t the most fascinating topic to some.
But this little ole nutrient has to do with so much of how our body runs and we don’t even realize it!
When fiber is digested, it moves through your system.
It helps good nutrients (like vitamins and minerals) absorb in your body.
It helps bind with bad stuff in your body (like cholesterol particles) and moves it along the digestion process, so it can’t absorb in your body.
Once fiber gets in the gut (which contrary to popular belief is your small intestine, not your stomach), it feeds your good bacteria (probiotics). This is the layer along your small intestine that fights to keep toxins from entering your bloodstream. Feeding it fiber keeps it strong enough to fight another day.
If you read my post, The One Ingredient You Should Remove From Your Kitchen, you saw how dangerous fruit juice and High Fructose Corn Syrup is because the fiber is no longer bonded to the fruit sugar. This is because when fiber bonds to sugar, it absorbs in your body at a much slower rate, which doesn’t send panic signals across your body.
Fiber is one of the biggest concerns for Americans. We don’t get enough fiber in our diets!
When that happens, there is nothing to feed the probiotics in your gut, allowing bad bacteria to feed on sugar and toxins.
This will begin destroying your protective layer of good bacteria.
This not only causes leaky gut, unleashing a variety of illnesses due to toxins and bacteria now in your bloodstream, but sugar is absorbed at a rapid pace, overwhelming your pancreas and liver, causing high amounts of insulin to release to try to regulate it all.
All that sugar and insulin overwhelm can cause type 2 diabetes!
Not only that, cholesterol particles and bacteria are flowing freely through your body, clogging up your heart and contributing to high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, etc.
Can you believe a diet low in sugar and high in fiber can help prevent all of this?
I talk about this some in my Probiotic Ranch Dressing recipe too, if you would like to read more on this.
What All Can Lack of Fiber Contribute to?
- Heart Disease
- High Blood Pressure
- Leaky Gut
- Cancer (particularly breast and colon cancers)
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Digestion Issues
- and much more!
There are even new studies coming out showing it may contribute to depression!
This is our entire system!
Fiber isn’t just about being able to go to the bathroom. You NEED it to help practically everything in your body.
Did you know fiber can help aid weight loss?
The more fiber you consume, you not only are helping your body work correctly, but you stay full much longer!
You eliminate more waste, you have more energy, and your body just feels better!
There have been some concerns with the keto and low carb diets recently by medical professionals, because many people on those plans are thinking they can just eat meat, oils, and dairy.
This is causing them not only to constantly be hungry, but feel sick and sluggish too, because they aren’t eating much fiber!
These diets can be great for some people, but make sure you are getting enough fiber if you try them out!
So What Should You Do if You Want More Fiber?
Before I answer this, I want to tell you there are 2 major differences in types of fiber that will help you when deciding what to eat.
- Soluble Fiber- Dissolves in water. It is the type to lower sugar and cholesterol. It is your oats, citrus fruits, apples, beans, avocados, veggies, flaxseeds etc.
- Insoluble Fiber- Promotes movement through the system (which carries the bad stuff out that it prevented from absorbing!). It is found in whole grains, nuts, beans, berries, veggies, potatoes, etc.
You need to eat both kinds to be healthy. As you can see from the list above, most foods with fiber contain both types, but they are usually more abundant in one or the other.
So make sure you mix up the type of fiber foods you eat!
It is highly recommended that if your diet is deficient in fiber, you should add more in gradually, and not all at once, otherwise you can get bloating and cramping.
You will also need to drink more water when you consume more fiber. You know how a lot of nutrients work together to absorb better? Fiber and Water are the same way.
Where Can I Find Fiber?
Dark chocolate is on the list! This makes a lot of us really happy. But wait! Don’t just pick up any dark chocolate. Make sure to eat 70% cocoa or above (it should state this on the label) in order to get the health benefits!
One thing to keep in mind is the general grocery aisle is very misleading when it comes to whole grains. If it says “Contains Whole Grains”, it doesn’t mean anything. “Multi-grain” and “12 grain” doesn’t mean a whole lot either.
If you pick up a box of whole grain cereal, and it has added sugar in it, you just defeated the purpose of any benefit whole grains may give you (remember they feed against each other in your gut, and sugar usually wins!).
So if you go with whole grains, make sure it is the only type of grain and there are no added sugars in it.
How Much Should You Consume?
It is generally recommended to consume at least 25g of fiber per day. Men should consume more than 30g.
Here is an example of how I start my day:
I eat a piece of avocado on whole grain toast.
I know people make fun of this for being the basic healthy girl meal, but there is a reason.
It tastes fantastic. But it also gives me 15g of fiber, and that is more than half of what is recommended for the day. And I did that just for breakfast!
People think only the rich can afford to do this, but a piece of avocado toast literally costs about $1.00-$1.75, depending if I buy the avocados in bulk or if they are on sale.
So it’s not as expensive as people think! It’s actually super cheap!
It sounds surprising, but this keeps me full for practically half the day!
Should You Get Fiber Supplements?
Most everything I read on this from medical professionals and dietitians advises against taking fiber supplements (or fiber bars) for daily use and stick with getting it from whole food sources.
Fiber supplements can be great if you have a one off day, where you didn’t eat very well. However, try not to make it an every day thing because your body can get addicted to them.
Which means if you stop taking them, you won’t be able to digest properly without them for a long time.
I can actually attest to this, because I took fiber supplements for a long time. Once I learned how your body can become addicted, I decided to quit taking them and test this out.
Once I got off them and tried to get it from my food, I was super constipated and feeling horrible stomach pains for a long time! And I just overall felt bad all the time!
Luckily, I continued to fill up on fiber every day, despite this, and over time I became regular, with no problems again and feel so much better than I ever did on the fiber supplements.
Get Your Fiber!
After studying nutrition, I became the world’s biggest advocate on fiber.
I couldn’t believe it helps us this much!
I have to tell you, since I started consuming more of it, I feel tons better!
Now when I go one day without getting enough fiber, I can feel the difference. I feel sluggish, I feel sick, and just overall feel bad.
So fiber is good. Make it your mission for the next two weeks to add one food containing fiber to your diet each day. After two weeks, add another food each day. And so on.
Need help? Besides avocado toast, here are some recipes of mine that contain over 5g of fiber per serving!
- Mango Cherry Protein Smoothie– about 10g
- Healthier German Chocolate Pie– about 8g
- Sweet and Spicy Chili– about 6g
- Chicken Bacon Ranch Pizza– about 7g
- Slow Cooker Anti-inflammatory Soup– about 5g
- Garlic Parmesan Roasted Vegetables– about 6g
- Snack Size Protein Taco Boats– about 6g
Let me know in the comments if you felt the change like I did after eating more fiber!