Fiber - A BIG bad F-word!
When I say fiber, do you think of cardboard or tree bark? I know when I have brought it up with clients I often get the stink-eye from them like I am going to ask them to eat saw dust! Some refer to it as their roughage, my grandma calls it getting her greens, but we all need it to get ourselves moving, stay at an optimal weight and feel our best. The big question is “Are you getting enough?”. The recommended daily amount of fiber is between 20 to 35 grams per day. Do you know if you are getting that amount?
I’m on top of this sort of stat in my own life and I can tell you honestly - I struggle on some days. If I am not consuming 4-6 servings of veggies and a fruit I’m not getting there! If you are like me and have had to cut out grains for health reasons, like food sensitivities or celiac disease, it can be hard!
Most high-fiber foods usually have insoluble and soluble fiber, it is not necessary to be too careful about dividing them up. But what exactly does this mean?
- Soluble fiber is the fiber in food that becomes gel-like in water. This is important as it slows the absorption of nutrients (especially glucose, which is important to keep blood sugar steady!) after a meal. It changes into this gel form as it goes through the digestive tract where it is fermented by bacteria.
- Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water and increases the bulk of stool. As it goes through the digestive tract, it does not change its form but increases the contraction and relaxation (peristalsis) which moves materials through your intestine and colon. It can also be fermented by bacteria in the colon.
The focus should be on fiber intake in general, rather than on the specific type of fiber.
So, where do we get fiber?
We need to consume plant foods to get fiber. Dietary fiber is actually a form of carbohydrate that does not get digested by enzymes in our small intestine, and so its sugar units are not absorbed into the bloodstream. Dietary fiber therefore does not spike our blood sugar but instead slows down the digestion of sugars to keep blood sugar stable. Fiber comes from fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, and whole grains. There is very little to no fiber in processed foods made from refined grains and no fiber in animal foods like meat and dairy products. This means that we will need to consume all the vegetables we can, a few fruits (as you don’t want to overdo it here because of the sugar content of these foods) some nuts and seeds and whole grains.
Lets look at our options:
Top Vegetable Options for Fiber
- Green Peas – 1 cup has 8.8 grams
- Broccoli – 1 cup has 5.1 grams
- Brussel Sprouts – 1 cup has 4.1 grams
- Sweet Corn – 1 cup has 3.6 grams
- Carrot – 1 medium raw has 1.7 grams
Top Fruit Options for Fiber
- Raspberries – 1 cup has 8 grams
- Avocado – ½ the fruit has 7 grams
- Apple – medium has 4.4 grams
- Orange – medium has 3.1 grams
- Strawberries – 1 cup has 3 grams
Top Legumes, Nuts and Seeds for Fiber
- Split Peas – 1 cup has 16.3 grams
- Lentils – 1 cup has 15.6 grams
- Black Beans – 1 cup has 15 grams
- Almonds – 1 ounce has 3.5 grams
- Pecans – 1 ounce has 2.7 grams
Top Whole Grain Options for Fiber
- Steel Cut Oats – ½ cup has 10 grams
- Barley – 1 cup has 6 grams
- Quinoa – 1 cup has 5 grams
- Brown Rice – 1 cup has 3.5 grams
- Wild Rice – 1 cup has 3 grams
What are some benefits of eating fiber?
There are many benefits of consuming fiber and finding the right amount for your individual needs. The body works best when fed real, natural, whole foods. These are the same foods that are high in fiber and high in nutrients. But here are a few more reasons why fiber is essential for optimal health.
Gastrointestinal and Colon Health - the consumption of fiber promotes regular bowel movements and prevents constipation. It may also reduce the risk of developing colitis and hemorrhoids. There is also mixed evidence that consuming fiber might help reduce the risk of colon cancer.
Blood Sugar - people with blood sugar issues and those who find themselves “hangry” or low on energy can benefit from more fiber. People who consume a lot of fiber tend to have fewer blood sugar fluctuations than those whose fiber intake is low. Fiber can help slow the absorption of sugar, helping to prevent spikes after meals.
Optimal Body Weight - a high-fiber intake can contribute to optimal body-weight control. Fiber helps with the feeling of fullness without adding calories (fiber calories are not absorbed by the body) this can support weight loss and maintaining an optimal weight.
Toxicity and Hormone Balance – adding fiber to your menu can help remove toxins from your body as well as high levels of excess hormones helping to keep hormone levels in balance. Fiber binds to toxins and excess hormones and helps to carry them out of the body allowing the body to stay in better balance.
Most foods that are high in fiber are also very healthy for other reasons. Take, for example, fruit, vegetables, and whole grains; they are high in fiber but also rich in vitamins and other essential nutrients. In other words, eating a high-fiber diet protects health through both the intake of fiber and other essential nutrients.
There are MANY more options for fiber. These are just the ones I believe most people will recognize can easily add to their menu to eat more regularly. To put it all together, in order to reach the goal of at least 20-35 grams of fiber a day one would simply have to eat a ¼ avocado and a half a cup of steel cut oats for breakfast (13.5 grams), plus a broccoli and carrot salad with lunch (6.8 grams), and ½ cup of quinoa and brussle sprouts with dinner (6.6 grams). It doesn’t have to be complicated and it can be delicious!
Want to get even healthier? Want help figuring out how to fit fiber into your daily routine especially if you have food sensitivities or if you have cut down on carbs? Curious about how health coaching can help you make your own healthy changes? Let’s talk! Schedule an initial complimentary consultation with me today—or pass this offer on to someone you care about! Visit www.noshoesnutrition.com and sign up for a FREE consultation. I work with people from all over the world individually or in groups so don’t let anything hold you back!