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GET YOUR FIBER!

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FIBER 101

At some point in our lives, we’ve all been told to “Eat more fiber!”. Heck, you may even recall your mom saying “You need more roughage!”. So, what’s all this fiber stuff about anyways?

As a nutrition coach, part of my job is helping you understand how to properly fuel your body so you feel your best, look your best and, improve your health. Believe it or not, fiber is a big part of the puzzle so this blog is dedicated to helping you understand:

  1. Why fiber is so important for your body and goals

  2. 5 Signs you’re not getting enough!

  3. Tips for scoring MORE fiber!

It’s time to explore the wonderful world of fiber – let’s dive right in!


WHY YOUR BODY NEEDS FIBER

Dietary fiber is the part of plant foods your body cannot digest or absorb. Here is why your body needs fiber:

  • Proper fiber intake keeps you regular and promotes healthy bowel movements –we can all be thankful for that!.

  • Fiber slows the absorption of glucose which evens out blood sugar levels AND lowers cholesterol and inflammation – hooray!

  • Eating a fiber-rich diet is linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and colorectal cancers – preventative health!

  • Eating a fiber-rich diet keeps you feeling fuller for longer and can reduce bouts of overeating and excessive snacking – mic drop.

There are two types of dietary fiber and both provide unique benefits to your overall health and wellness:

  1. Soluble Fiber: Dissolves in water and includes sources like oats, beans, apples, carrots, and barley.

  2. Insoluble Fiber: Does not dissolve in water and can be found in sources such as nuts, cauliflower, whole-wheat flour, and potatoes.

For most of us, the main source of dietary fiber consumed is in the form of carbohydrates. Now remember, not all carbohydrates are created equal.

  • Simple carbohydrates such as cookies, cakes and white bread contain LITTLE to NO fiber or nutritional value.

  • Smart or complex carbohydrates on the other hand are PACKED with fiber! Think whole grains, oats, brown rice, fruits, vegetables, and beans.

So, how much fiber should you be eating to reap the benefits?

The USDA recommended daily amount for adults is 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men. However, the average, American adult is only consuming 10-15 grams of total fiber per day – ruh-row!

As you can see, the typical American diet is underdelivering when it comes to proper fiber intake due to a number of culprits such as low-carb diets, the consumption of ultra-processed foods and lack of fresh fruits and vegetables.

By including a serving of smart carbohydrates at most or all meals, you are guaranteed to hit the recommended daily amount needed to reap the many benefits fiber provides.


5 SIGNS YOU NEED MORE FIBER

Now that you understand WHY fiber is vital to your health and well being, it’s time to uncover the truth: Are YOU getting enough?

If you gravitate towards processed foods, are riding that low carb train and /or hide from fruits and veggies, I can guarantee you need MORE fiber!

Either way, if you aren’t convinced you’re getting enough, here are a few telltale signs you may be lacking in this department:

#1. CONSTIPATION: the most obvious sign you aren’t getting enough. Safe to assume we’ve all been there and as you know, it’s uncomfortable, leads to bloating as well as pain and discomfort.

#2. (still) HUNGRY AFTER YOU EAT: When you eat a high fiber meal, your stomach empties slower and since fiber expands when it absorbs water, you will feel fuller for longer. On the other hand, if your meal lacks fiber, you aren’t going to feel satisfied or “full”, and will soon be reaching for more food to satisfy your appetite .

#3. HIGH CHOLESTEROL: Soluble fiber (the type that absorbs water) can reduce the absorption of cholesterol in your system and because of this, studies have shown fiber can lower cholesterol levels.

#4. TIRED & SLUGGISH: Proper fiber intake will help balance blood sugar levels and prevent blood sugar spikes and crashes. These spikes and subsequent crashes in blood sugar levels can leave you feeling tired and extra sluggish so by slowing down the absorption of glucose, these bouts of fatigue can be greatly reduced.
#5. DIFFICULTY LOSING WEIGHT: Consuming the proper amount of dietary fiber leads to feelings of fullness and appetite satisfaction. If your diet is low in fiber, you may find yourself snacking throughout the day in order to satisfy your appetite and snacking is one of the most common ways to consume excess calories bringing any weight loss effort to a halt.


 TIPS FOR SCORING MORE FIBER!

As I shared earlier, most dietary fiber is consumed in the form of carbohydrates and with so many different (smart) carb options, you have endless choices for getting all the fiber you need each and every day!

Here are some suggestions to get you started. **Note – pick what you like for each! The foods listed are especially high in fiber!

  • Fresh fruits: pears, apples, bananas, raspberries, strawberries, apples, blueberries, blackberries

  • Vegetables: carrots, beets, Brussel sprouts, broccoli, artichoke, kale, spinach, tomatoes

  • Whole grains: quinoa, oatmeal, brown rice, wild rice, couscous, whole grain, sprouted breads like the Food For Life brand

  • Legumes: kidney beans, split peas, chickpeas, cooked black beans, cooked edamame

  • Other sources of fiber: sweet potato, avocado, chia seeds, almonds

Now that you have some ideas to get started on bulking up that fiber intake starting today, here is how much you want to be eating daily:

  • Ladies: aim to have 1 cupped-handful sized serving of smart carbohydrates at most meals

  • Men: aim for 1-2 cupped-handful sized servings at most meals.

**Important: If reading this blog got you on a fiber kick, you will want to begin increasing your fiber SLOWLY! Too much too soon can have negative effects such as bloating and cramping. Allow your body time to adjust and over time increase your intake. Also, be sure to drink plenty of water since water helps your body digest fiber and pass through your digestive tract more easily.


Stay Fueled!

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