I’m sure many of us have heard that fiber is important in our diet, and some of you may have even been advised to eat a ‘high fiber’ diet.
Dietary fiber can be found in a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes…and many people that have been advised to eat more fiber are typically struggling with digestive issues such as constipation, an autoimmune condition, or blood sugar and glucose issues.
However, it is important to understand that too much of a good thing isn’t great either as some individuals, especially those gut conditions like IBS, IBD, leaky gut, candida, bacterial overgrowth and other digestive issues, may not be able to tolerate high amounts of fiber.Fiber is commonly classified as soluble, which dissolves in water, or insoluble, which doesn't dissolve.
Soluble fiber fiber dissolves in water to form a gel-like material when it enters the digestive tract.
Soluble fibers help in creating softer stools so that they can move easily through the digestive tract. Soluble fibers can also help lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels as they have the ability to lock onto cholesterol and sugar and prevent or slow down their absorption in the bloodstream.
Soluble fibers also feed the good gut bacteria to help support a good balance and keep a positive balance over harmful bacteria.
Soluble fiber is found in oats, peas, beans, blueberries, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, avocado, barley and psyllium.
Insoluble fiber: “Insoluble” refers to the fact that it does not dissolve in water, but rather stays intact throughout the digestive system.
Therefore it does not get broken down in the digestive track or absorbed in to the bloodstream. The main role of insoluble fiber is to promote movement of waste through your digestive system and help bulk up stool that is exiting the digestive system.
It can also bind to certain toxins that should be excreted, including cholesterol and excess hormones as it “sweeps” the colon – partly evacuating metabolized or “dirty” estrogens and prevents estrogen dominance. (source) So it can be of benefit to those who struggle with constipation or irregular stools.
This type of fiber is insoluble as it is the most rough and is found in higher amounts in whole grains, wheat bran, nuts, beans, vegetables like cauliflower, green beans and potatoes, and certain parts of fruits mainly in the tougher types of skin and stalks.
The amount of soluble and insoluble fiber varies in different plant foods. We recommend increasing your fiber intake by eating a wide variety of high quality foods in order to receive the greatest health benefit.
As we’ve mentioned already, there is a lot of benefit to including dietary fiber into your diet, but here are a few others in case you’re not bought in just yet :)
Benefits of eating adequate amounts of fiber
So, how much fiber do we need per day?
Supports daily bowel movements - Every one of us should be going to the bathroomdaily - or at least only skipping 1 day here and there. Going to the bathroom is extremely important as it removes toxic waste from the body including bacteria, hormones and regularly excreting stool is important for good colon health.
Dietary fiber increases the weight and size of your stool and softens it. A bulky stool is easier to pass, decreasing your chance of constipation. If you have loose, watery stools, fiber may help to solidify the stool because it absorbs water and adds bulk to stool.
Helps maintain bowel health - A high-fiber diet may lower your risk of developing hemorrhoids and small pouches in your colon (diverticular disease). Studies have also found that a high-fiber diet likely lowers the risk of colorectal cancer.
Supports cholesterol levels - As mentioned, soluble fiber can bind to cholesterol and help shuttle it out of the body. Eating foods like beans, oats, flaxseed and oat bran may help lower total blood cholesterol levels by lowering low-density lipoprotein, or "bad," cholesterol levels.
Helps control blood sugar levels - Also mentioned before, soluble fiber can help slow down the absorption of sugar and help improve blood sugar levels. This is particularly important for people concerned with diabetes and those wanting to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Supports weight loss and weight maintenance - High-fiber foods tend to be more filling than low-fiber foods, so you're likely to eat less and stay satisfied longer. High-fiber foods also tend to be less calorie dense and more voluminous, which means you can eat fewer calories with a larger volume of food.
Well, as mentioned, this varies as individuals with gut/digestive issues may not be able to tolerate as much or may have steer clear from certain foods as each person is different when it comes to their digestion.
General recommendations are to consume about 20 to 30 grams of fiber each day, but most Americans only get about 15 grams a day. More specifically, The U.S. Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine recommends that women under 50 have a fiber intake of 25 g/day and over 50, have 21 g/day.
What if you don’t like vegetables or can’t tolerate a lot of foods?
You can easily support your body with a high quality greens supplement, as well as fiber supplements and fortified foods.
Whole foods rather than fiber supplements are always going to be better as they provide a lot of micronutrients aka vitamins and minerals. Our Greens supplement contains a superfoods blend of broccoli, spinach, kale, alfalfa, spirulina, chlorella along with prebiotics, a powerful antioxidant blend and digestive enzymes which can help you break down and absorb nutrients from the foods you are consuming.
Fiber supplements — such as Metamucil, Benefiber, Citrucel and FiberCon — don't provide the variety of fibers, vitamins, minerals and other beneficial nutrients that foods do.
At the end of the day, if you’re under consuming fiber currently, we recommend starting to slowly introduce more insoluble and soluble fiber with a variety of foods listed above. Work your way to eating enough each day for overall health and see how your digestive system improves! If needed, you can always track your food in a free app like myfitnesspal or myplate to see how many grams of fiber you’re consuming each day!
Here is an easy Baked Protein Pumpkin Oatmeal recipe to help get in some fiber!
2 cup gluten free oats
2.5 scoop CLEAN vanilla protein
1/4 cup pecans
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking powder
1.5 cup unsweetened macadamia nut milk
1.5 cup pumpkin puree
3/4 cup egg whites
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tsp vanilla extract
Mix dry ingredients together in small bowl and stir to combine.
Mix wet ingredients together in large bowl and whisk until smooth.
Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir well.
Let set while oven preheats to 350.
Pour into a 13x9 dish, sprayed with nonstick spray and bake 20-25 min *check it at 15 and every few minutes until done.
Top with cool whip, syrup and add some berries for extra fiber!
Makes 8 servings
Cals 221, 5g Fat, 28g Carbs, 4g Fiber (before adding berries), 16g Protein