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Fiber 101

Health isn’t about eating in a caloric deficit to lose weight and look your best. Health is about fueling your body with the nutrients it needs in order to function maximally so you can feel your best. A high-fiber diet is vital when it comes to feeling your best. So what is fiber and why is it important?

Dietary fiber is the indigestible part of plants that adds bulk to your digestive system helping to keep you regular and prevent constipation. It’s found mainly in fruits, veggies, whole grains, and legumes. Unlike fats, carbohydrates, and proteins that your body can break down and absorb, fiber cannot be digested by the body. Instead, it is passes through your digestive tract relatively intact.

There are two types of fiber:

Insoluble Fiber: cannot be dissolved in water. This is referred to as ‘roughage’ and the ‘bulk’ that pushes through the digestive system which helps regulate your bowel movements. This is found in the stalks, skins, and seeds of whole grains, nuts, fruits, and veggies.

Soluble Fiber: can be dissolved in water so it forms a gel-like substance inside the digestive system that helps soften stool so it can slide through the GI tract more easily. This is found in oats, beans, citrus fruits, and carrots.

The amount of soluble and insoluble fiber varies in different plant foods so be sure to eat a variety of high-fiber foods for maximum health benefits which are:

  1. Normalizes Bowel Movements. The insoluble fiber that adds bulk pushing your stool along and the soluble fiber creates a gel-like substance softening your stool, helping you go to the bathroom.

  2. Relieves and Prevents Constipation. Are you constipated? Try adding some high fiber foods to your diet to help move things along.

  3. Maintains Bowel Health.

  4. Aids in Maintaining a Healthy Weight. Because they cannot be digested, high-fiber foods tend to be more filling than low-fiber foods. High-fiber foods generally take longer to eat (think of eating a broccoli floret compared to a piece of chocolate) and tend to be much less energy-dense AKA less calorically-dense. High-fiber foods will add a lot of volume to your meals at the expense of fewer calories.

  5. Lowers Cholesterol Levels.

  6. Heart-Health Benefits. Studies have shown that a high-fiber diet has benefits such as reducing blood pressure, inflammation, and reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease and various types of cancers.

  7. Helps Control Blood Sugar Levels. Fiber can slow the absorption of sugar. It can also reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Now that you are convinced that you need to be eating a high-fiber diet, let’s talk about what foods are high in fiber.

*It’s recommended that women need 21-25 grams of fiber a day while men need 30-38 grams.

Foods with “added fiber” can be a solution to increasing your fiber intake if you aren’t capable of getting enough from whole foods. However, some people experience abnormal gassiness and bloating from these sorts of products.

This week I challenge you to actively think about the foods you’re eating in regards to fiber. Are you getting enough? Start making some fibrous changes and monitor how you and your digestive system feel.


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