The Importance of Fiber
Not only does fiber protect us against GI disorders (acid reflux, constipation, colon cancer) but also cancer, diabetes, heart disease, macular degeneration, dementia, and a host of other maladies.
The vast majority of Americans are insufficient in their fiber intake, averaging only 10 to 15 grams per day. The RDA is 25 to 35 g/day. The ideal would be closer to 70 to 80g/day. The proof can be found in the disease statistics. The key to greater health lies in the contents of fiber: phytochemical (protective compounds found in plants), nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.
There are two types of fiber: insoluble and soluble. Here’s a breakdown:
- found in beans, green vegetables, seeds, and some fruits
- supplies a gelatinous-like material in the bowel and dissolves in the gut
- is not absorbed and does not give us calories
- slows absorption of glucose
- helps lower cholesterol
- found in seeds, nuts, vegetables, and beans
- roughage (think: celery)
- provides bulk to our stool and keeps us regular
And there’s a “subclass” of fiber:
- a resistant starch is a carbohydrate that acts like a fiber
- resistant to stomach acid and digestive enzymes (hence, the name)
- not digested in the small intestine; passes to the large intestine, where it undergoes fermentation (the bacteria decompose and degrade this starch into simpler compounds)
- when the bacteria in the bowel degrade the resistant starch, it forms new compounds that have health benefits for everybody, especially diabetics
- food sources include: legumes, lentils, peas, and chickpeas
FIBER IN GENERAL:
- contains phytochemicals and nutrients which help protect us from disease
- reduces fat mass by filling us up with few calories and lots of nutrients
- causes good motility (food keeps moving through the GI tract and reduces chances of colon cancer, SIBO, GERD, constipation and indigestion)
- heals the gut microbiome; the bigger the diversity of fruits and vegetables, the more diverse the microbiome = gut health
Note: there is NO fiber in animal products; therefore, they offer NO protection against GI disorders, heart disease, diabetes, dementia and cancer.
DO YOU NEED MORE FIBER?
Answer these questions to find out:
1) Do you eat Tums like candy?
2) Do you eliminate (yes, poop) less than once per day?
3) Do you have constipation? Diarrhea? Bloating?
4) Do you have stool softener in your medicine cabinet?
5) Do you have Preparation H in your medicine cabinet?
6) Do you have high cholesterol?
7) Does your poop (there I go again) resemble something a deer did, rather than a human?
HOW TO IMPLEMENT MORE FIBER INTO YOUR DIET
If you eat a SAD (Standard American Diet) but you’d like to change to a healthy diet, fiber needs to be introduced slowly. Fiber will have a direct impact on your gut, so follow the steps below to slowly introduce new foods into your diet without unpleasant side effects. Depending on how “off” your diet is, it can take as long as six months to work your way up to 70 grams of fiber/day (comfortably).
Here are a few tips (in order):
- Start with fruit; 2 per day (berries are best if you’re diabetic)
- Cook your veggies; it’s easier on the gut causing less bloating
- Gradually start eating raw vegetables
- Start introducing well-cooked beans - 1 tablespoon every day; gradually increase
- It’s recommended NOT to take digestive enzymes or Beano, but instead a probiotic such as lactobacillus (Dr. Joel Fuhrman)
With today’s supply of unhealthy foods at the ready, it’s even more important for us to focus on fiber. If we eat more high-fiber foods, we’ll naturally knock out the processed foods that are robbing us of our health. If you’re still in the calorie-counting mindset, remember, high-fiber foods containing resistant starch aren’t converting to calories in your body. Your metabolism will change because you’re actually burning calories while eating good food.
Diabetics: It’s imperative for you to eat a high-fiber diet. The phytochemical in fiber literally heal the damaged cells, enabling you to become more sensitive to insulin and to reverse diabetes. At the same time, fiber lowers your cholesterol, reduces your risk of cancer, stroke, and cardiovascular disease.
- It takes about 20 olives to equal 1 Tbsp. of olive oil. The oil contains NO fiber; olives do. Eat olives!!
- The magic of fiber is in the WHOLE plant; not puréed, refried, mashed, or made into flour (ex: black bean pasta)
So, go eat your veggies!
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