Fiber Forever

There’s one nutrient you’re almost definitely deficient in.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m talking about fiber – the nutrient that up to 97% of Americans aren’t getting enough of on a daily basis. But it is absolutely one of the most important nutrients.

Our children are only at the starting line of dietary fiber intake. To our national shame, the adult conditions – constipation, overweight/obesity, and type 2 diabetes (markers of inadequate fiber intake) – continue to increase among them.

Sadly, very little research exists addressing either the dietary fiber intake of children or its effects on their health.

If their present health situation continues, very few will reach the finish line at a “healthy, old age”.

Soluble vs Insoluble Fiber

There are two different types of fiber: soluble and insoluble.

Soluble fiber can takes in water and turns into a gel-like substance. If you take a soluble fiber supplement (like psyllium husks), it’s a good idea to drink it right away. Soluble fiber helps slow down the digestion process. Slower digestion means more thoroughly digested food which means you’re able to get more nutrients out of your organic produce. Soluble fiber also feeds the probiotics in your gut.

Insoluble fiber has pretty much one job and one job only – to make your poop bigger and help it move through your colon. Getting enough insoluble fiber means you’ll spend less time on the toilet. The best sources of insoluble fiber are legumes and nuts. Certain vegetables such as cauliflower and green beans also contain a decent amount of insoluble fiber.

Fiber Benefits

I’ve already listed two benefits. Fiber helps feed the microbes in your gut. It also feeds the pathogenic bacteria in your gut. So be sure to flood your gut with probiotics before you get serious about taking fiber. It also helps you poop easier which means you won’t strain as much which means you’re less likely to get hemorrhoids.

Weight Loss

Fiber helps you lose weight. Because it slows down the digestive process you’ll feel fuller longer and won’t resort to the snacks hidden in your desk drawer or your pantry.

Heart Health

Ever wonder why Cheerios can say it’s heart healthy even though it’s not all that great for you? It’s because of its fiber content. People who get enough fiber every day have a 40% lower risk of getting heart disease.

Controls Blood Sugar

Again, thanks to its ability to slow down digestion, it slows down the digestion of sugar. I’m not saying you can go wild and eat an entire cake if you’re diabetic, but it certainly won’t affect your blood sugar levels nearly as much. If you’re not diabetic, it can help reduce your risk of diabetes.

How Much Do I Need?

How much fiber should you get every day? Somewhere between 20 and 30 grams. It’s simple but not easy. In fact, it’s very difficult to do. That’s why 97% of Americans don’t get enough. The only way you’re going to know how much fiber you consume is to start tracking your dietary choices.

There are many smart phone apps to help. If that’s not your tool of choice, you can get a small fiber reference book and go old school. It won’t take you very long, probably less than a week to find out you are at risk.

The good news is there are lots of foods and supplements you can use to help boost your intake. One caveat: be sure to increase the amount of water you’re drinking. You’ll soon find your groove and start having smooth moves.

References:

http://nutritionfacts.org/2015/09/29/where-do-you-get-your-fiber/
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8627965
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19335713

 

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