Fiber is something I focus on with all of my clients! Fiber is your friend for several reasons, as it plays a crucial role in maintaining overall health and well-being.
Here are some key reasons why fiber is so important:
Digestive Health: Fiber aids in maintaining a healthy digestive system. It adds bulk to the stool, promoting regular bowel movements.Additionally, it can help alleviate symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Weight Management: High-fiber foods tend to be filling, which can help control appetite and reduce overall calorie intake. This is helpful for managing weight and if you're goal is to lose weight.
Gut Microbiome: Fiber acts as a prebiotic, providing nourishment to beneficial gut bacteria. A diverse and healthy gut microbiome is crucial for a strong immune system, better digestion, and overall well-being.
Blood Sugar Regulation: Soluble fiber, found in foods like oats and legumes, can slow down the absorption of sugar, which helps in stabilizing blood glucose levels. This is particularly beneficial for people with diabetes or those at risk of developing it.
Heart Health: Fiber-rich diets have been associated with a reduced risk of heart disease. Soluble fiber can lower LDL cholesterol levels (the "bad" cholesterol).
Colon Health: High-fiber diets have been linked to a lower risk of developing colorectal cancer. Fiber may help prevent certain types of cancer by promoting a healthy environment in the colon and reducing the time harmful substances come into contact with the intestinal lining.
Blood Pressure Management: Some studies suggest that diets rich in fiber can help lower blood pressure, reducing the risk of hypertension and related cardiovascular problems.
It's important to note that different types of fiber (soluble and insoluble) offer unique health benefits.
Soluble fiber can be dissolved in water. It’s found in many whole foods like nuts, beans, oats, peas and lentils. It’s also found in the pulp of fruits like apples, blueberries and grapes. When fibre fibre passes through the digestive tract, the soluble fibre absorbs water, becoming like a gel that helps to slow down the digestion process. This makes soluble fibre helpful in soaking up extra water, relieving loose stool and slowing down the speed that food travels through the digestive tract. It also plays an important part in how our bodies digest sugars and starches.
This kind of fibre promotes heart health thanks to the role it plays in lowering cholesterol, reducing the risk of developing heart disease or suffering strokes.
Insoluble fiber keeps your internal plumbing humming by helping to boost your digestive system. This type of fibre does not dissolve in water. As it passes through the digestive tract, insoluble fibre adds bulk, or weight, to the stool. Although it is not a laxative, insoluble fibre promotes an optimal digestive tract, which can relieve constipation.
You can find insoluble fibre in whole wheat flour, bran, rye, beans, nuts, vegetables like cauliflower, green beans and potatoes. Green, leafy vegetables, as well as the skins and peels of most fruits and vegetables, are excellent sources of the insoluble fibre found in plant walls.
Consuming a variety of fiber-rich foods is the best approach to reap the full advantages of this essential nutrient.
How much fiber do you need?
Studies show anywhere from 30-40g is recommended per day. The more protein you eat the more important fiber becomes! Now, I know some of you reading this may be smaller women in a calorie deficit thinking "30-40g"?! If thats the case, I suggest aiming for minimum 15g per 1000kcal.
If you are not having minimum 1 bowel movement per day, chances are you need more fiber.
Coaches tip: Raspberries and popcorn are my favourite high fiber snack, especially when I'm trying to look for a lower calorie option. Melting some dark chocolate onto strawberries when I want to honour a craving is also a favourite!
If you want to help yourself have regular bowel movements, reduce your risk of disease, feed your good gut bacteria and feel fuller for longer then fiber is your friend!