The Wonders of FIBER- Why Fiber is Your Friend
BySarah Axtell, ND •February 1, 2022
It is estimated that our paleo ancestors got 100 grams of fiber daily from fruits and vegetables. Most Americans are only getting about 15 grams per day!
Types of Fiber:
Soluble Fiber– attracts water and turns to gel during digestion, slowing digestion and keeping you feeling food and satisfied. Sources include whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, and psyllium husk.
Insoluble Fiber– adds bulk to your stool and helps food pass more quickly through the stomach and intestines. Sources include fruits and vegetables.
Here are 7 reasons why fiber is your friend:
- Healthy digestion. Fiber helps normalize bowel movements- it can bulk the stool in cases of loose stools or diarrhea. It can promote bowel regularity in cases of constipation.
- Keeps you full! If you constantly feel hungry, try adding 1 TBSP psyllium husk powder to your water in the morning.
- Improves bloods sugar and insulin sensitivity. Fiber can block the absorption of sugar, thus preventing highs in blood sugar and insulin.
- Reduces cholesterol. It is well established that the soluble fiber in oats reduces cholesterol, notably LDL (“bad cholesterol”).
- Reduces risk of colon cancer by increasing stool bulk, diluting carcinogens, and decreasing transit time, thus reducing the contact between carcinogens and the lining of the colorectum.
- Promotes weight loss. According to a 2009 study, for every 1 gram of increased fiber in the diet, women lost 0.5 lbs and body fat.
- Hormone balance. Fiber is essential for excreting estrogen metabolites. Fiber promotes a healthy estrobolome, which aids in estrogen detoxification. Best forms of fiber for hormone balance include flaxseeds and prebiotic rich foods, such as artichokes, dandelion greens, chicory root, garlic, onion, leeks, and asparagus.
Ways to get more fiber in your diet:
-Add ground flaxseeds to smoothies or oatmeal
-Swap instant or rolled oats for Gluten-Free Oat Bran (Bob’s Red Mill). I use this in baking (when recipes call for oat flour, you can swap oat bran for even more fiber). You can also make hot oat bran cereal in the morning for a fiber-rich breakfast.
-Aim for 6 cups veggies daily. High fiber veggies include squash, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, artichokes, and asparagus.
-Make chia pudding. Chia seeds are an excellent source of fiber.
– Don’t peel edible skins from fruits and vegetables. Keep skins on your potatoes, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, apples, and kiwis (yes, the skin on kiwis is edible and a great source of fiber!).
-Snack on blueberries, raspberries, and nuts. Avoid empty carbs as snacks, which are devoid of fiber (pretzels, crackers, chips hardly have any fiber).
-Swap crackers for Flackers. A serving of flackers provides 6 grams of fiber compared with a serving of Nut Thins crackers which only provides 1 gram.
-Add avocado to foods- eggs, salads, and smoothies. Half an avocado provides approximately 5 grams of fiber.
Goal for daily fiber intake: Aim for at least 35 grams daily (or approx. 10 grams per meal).
What if fiber is NOT your friend?
If you get worsening constipation, excessive gas, and/or bloating from fiber, talk with your naturopathic doctor. This may be a sign of SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth).
Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health practitioners with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.