The Fuss About Fiber
What’s all this fuss about fiber? Turns out, fiber is more important than you’d think!
I've been in practice for over 30 years now, and not a single day goes by without talking about how important it is to make sure you take in enough fiber. Believe it or not, 30 years
ago the average recommended fiber intake was 7 grams or less! Thankfully, the recommended fiber intake has doubled over the last 5 years. While it's certainly better than before, that recommendation is still far too low. I personally recommend that you consume at least 25 grams of fiber a day, if not more.
So, what is fiber?
Fiber is, simply, the parts of plant food that your body can't absorb. You might think, "well, that doesn't sound too important!" The reality is that it's absolutely essential.
There are two types of dietary fiber that your body needs to function healthily and happily: soluble and insoluble.
What are the benefits of insoluble fiber? Insoluble fiber promotes bowel movements. It prevents you from getting constipated, decreases flare ups for diverticulosis, and keeps your colon healthy; i.e., reduces your chances of hemorrhoids.
Soluble Fiber has a different (but equally important) purpose. It adds bulk to your stool while also protecting your heart by attaching to cholesterol particles and removing them from the body. It's also very helpful at removing excess estrogen!
So, quite frankly: no fiber = no elimination.
While talking about fiber, there are three seeds the wellness community totes that I wanted to highlight today: flax seeds, chia seeds, and hemp seeds.
Flax seeds and chia seeds are both very high in fiber. However, they're primarily high in insoluble fiber, rather than soluble. So, if you want the benefit of lowering cholesterol or removing excess estrogen from your body, you may want to consider sources that contain more soluble fiber (see below for ideas).
· 3 tablespoons of flax seed contains 8 grams of fiber. Flax seeds have a fairly even split between soluble and insoluble fiber. Of 8g, 3.6 is soluble, and the other 5.4 is insoluble.
· 2 tablespoons of chia seed also contains 8 grams of fiber, of which all 8 grams are insoluble. So, chia seeds are great for initiating elimination!
· Hemp seeds only have 1.2 grams of fiber in 3 tablespoons, which is all insoluble. While hemp seeds don't quite hold up to flax or chia in a fiber fight, they're still a good source and an excellent way to get your protein and Omega-3's!
For other sources of fiber, consider incorporating the following:
While soluble vs. insoluble can sometimes sound complicated, the most important lesson to take from this is to pay attention to your fiber intake. Do you consume 30-40 grams of fiber a day?
If you want to incorporate more fiber but aren't quite sure how to work it in, here's an example of my average day.
¼ cup rolled oats
2 tablespoons buckwheat groats
½ cup blueberries
½ cup blackberries
1 tablespoon flax seed meal
1 tablespoon chia seed
Pumpkin Seed protein powder
3-4 cups mixed veggies – usually salad greens, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, kraut, beets, carrots, zucchini, sautéed mushrooms
1 cup black beans or chickpeas
Almond butter and an apple
1-2 cups cooked veggies
Sweet potato or beans or pumpkin or winter squash
Cheers to a fantastic, fiber-filled system!