Fiber is a key component in digestion and overall total body health. Aiding in eliminating toxins from your body, a fiber-rich diet can also help keep blood sugars stable, reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol, boost energy, and assist in weight loss efforts.
Soluble and Insoluble
There are two types of dietary fiber: soluble and insoluble. Just as their names suggest, soluble fiber dissolves in as it’s digested. It also attracts water and gels, which can delay stomach emptying, helping to control insulin levels and provide sustained energy. Insoluble fiber, however, is not broken down during digestion, adding bulk to speed the passage of waste and eliminate toxins. Insoluble fiber also helps create a sense of satiety, signaling your body’s hunger mechanism to shut off.
How Much Fiber do We Need?
Most clinical studies that show the health benefits of a high fiber diet call for about 50 grams of fiber per day. If you follow and base your diet on nutrient rich, plant-based foods, you’ve got this covered. You may have heard that if you’re adding more fiber to your diet, it is important to drink more water otherwise the extra fiber can slow things down, making elimination harder, instead of easier. However, this wisdom is intended mostly for those adding fiber through supplements. If you’re getting your fiber from a diet of nutrient-rich, plant-based foods, this will take care of itself naturally.
Where Can You Get Fiber?
Fiber is almost solely the domain of clean, plant-based superfoods. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and sprouted grains are all delicious, nutrient rich foods. It is best to get a mix of soluble and insoluble fiber daily, and flax is a great example of a food containing both types of fiber.
Fabulous Fiber Sources
Fiber is fantastic for your body and research has shown that consumption of fiber-rich food can help to treat constipation and diverticulosis, decrease cholesterol levels and aid in weight management by increasing your satiety (feeling of fullness). Bring some of these fabulous fiber sources to your plate.
Naturally rich in fiber, beans are also a dense source of protein, vitamins and minerals. Switch it up from kidney beans to chickpeas and pinto beans… the list goes on! If you experience gas when consuming beans, consider a digestive enzyme supplement.
Raw Fruits and Vegetables
Hearty sources of fiber, fruit is available in a rainbow of colors. Be sure to eat the whole spectrum to see the full benefits of fruit consumption. Berries are high in antioxidants as well as fiber. Dark leafy greens are an excellent source of insoluble fiber, which is a digestive aid. Even avocado—which is rich in heart- healthy unsaturated fats, is a source of fiber, with 9 grams per half of avocado! The highest fruit and vegetable sources of fiber (5 grams plus per serving) are: apples, blackberries, pears, raspberries and spinach.
Rich in soluble fiber, which helps to reduce blood cholesterol and keep you full, oat bran can be sprinkled on top of berries, or you can make porridge from it. Beans Naturally rich in fiber, beans are also a dense source of protein, vitamins and minerals. Switch it up from kidney beans to chickpeas and pinto beans… the list goes on! If you experience gas when consuming beans, consider a digestive enzyme supplement.
One of the richest sources of soluble fiber (which helps to stabilize blood sugar and regulate blood cholesterol) these super seeds are also rich in omega-3, 2 the essential fatty acids that help to keep hair shiny, skin soft, and hormone production regulated. Chia can be used as an egg replacement in any baked good—just mix 1 tablespoon of chia with 3 tablespoons of water and let sit for five minutes.
A small seed rich in both fiber and omega-3, flax is best ground for full absorption of essential fatty acids. To replace one egg in a recipe, combine 1 Tbsp of flax with 3 Tbsp of water and let sit for five minutes. This will help to stabilize any baked good.