Fiber - How Much and What Kind?
A healthy gut is of the utmost importance when it comes to weight management - and generally just maintaining a colon that works how it’s supposed to. One of the most obvious barometers for gut health is…well…your poo.
Humans were not meant to make a mess while “popping a squat,” much less break a sweat just to “cut a rope.”
If it doesn’t happen with minimal effort, (or pain-free for that matter), there may be a chance that you're not getting enough fiber in your diet.
What is fiber?
Fiber is in the plants we eat, specifically the parts of the plants that the body cannot digest or absorb. Because it cannot be digested, it acts to help keep the digestive system in motion so things don’t get backed up. It bulks up our poo, and generally just keeps everything movin’. It helps clear out excess cholesterol from our bloodstream and lowers our blood pressure. Fiber also aids in weight loss because it promotes a healthy digestive system. It contains the potential to clear out toxic carcinogens and acts as a natural anti-inflammatory agent, which ultimately boosts our immune systems.
What kinds of fiber are there?
Typically we read labels that simply state, “high in fiber,” but what kind of fiber do they mean? What kind of fiber does your body need?
There are two kinds of fiber that our bodies need to obtain through diet, soluble and insoluble.
Soluble fiber is named as such because of its ability to attract and mix with water. The resulting gel-like substance helps to slow digestion and promotes satiety.
Soluble fiber is found in oat bran, barley, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, peas, citrus fruits, apples, berries, and pears.
Insoluble fiber helps to move along the process of digestion and it makes up the bulk of your poo. Insoluble fiber can be found in wheat bran, whole grains, brown rice, couscous, and vegetables such as celery and cucumbers, and root vegetables such as carrots, parsnips, and potatoes.
How do I know if I’m getting enough fiber?
Now say it with me, “Read thine labels!”
Dietary Fiber is listed under Total Carbohydrate, because fiber is technically considered a carbohydrate. The amount of fiber that is considered true dietary fiber is included in the Total Carbohydrate number. Check the % Daily Value - generally if the number is 5% or below, the product is not a good source of fiber. If the number is 20% or above, the product is a good source of fiber.
When it comes to fruits and vegetables that come with no labels, check out an online food chart such as this one from C.S Mott Children’s Hospital;
How much fiber should I be eating every day?
In order to obtain a more accurate estimation for how much fiber YOU should be getting, get an appointment with a registered dietician. Otherwise, check out the cheat sheet from the Food and Nutrition Information Center USDA (the picture at the top of this article).
So, for example, if I am a 27-year-old female, and I am wondering how many carrots I would need to eat to get a third of my percent daily value of fiber, I could…
see that I need 25 grams of fiber daily from checking the Food and Nutrition Information Center, USDA
Check the online food chart from C.S Mott Children’s Hospital to see that 1 medium carrot has 2 grams of fiber
Conclude that I would need to eat about 4 1/2 medium carrots to get a third of my daily fiber needs.
In conclusion, when something is “off” with your digestion, it can wreak havoc on your entire day, which can put your mind in a terrible place, and then you end up yelling at your husband for looking at you the wrong way and he gets upset but doesn’t know that you should have just been getting more fiber.
Getting into the practice of reading labels and making a note of what you are putting in your body can help you make a HUGELY significant paradigm shift when it comes to diet and weight management, and who doesn’t want to have a colon that just feels normal all the time?!
It can be as easy as choosing a few days out of your week to just write down everything you’ve eaten. Don’t judge or change anything, just notice. Make note of when you’re getting your fiber, or when you’re not, and then make one small change at a time.
To your well-being, and healthy colons -
All my love.