Did she say, “Fiberlicious”?!?!
You have heard its good for you, but do you know why or how? If you are confused, you’re not alone. Dietary fiber can often be a misunderstood nutrient. It’s not a new talk topic for fitness fanatics; many have acknowledged and promoted fiber’s benefits. But with so much information floating around it’s hard to know whats right for YOU. Developing a better understanding on the powerful role that fiber plays in keeping your body healthy and incorporating strong fiber habits into your routine will increase your performance and vitality. Educate yourself with this “Fiber 101” post. Fill your days with delicious fiber and glow from the INSIDE out. Fill up and feel “Fiberlicious”!
Fiber in its dietary form is a plant food that the body isn’t meant to digest. This is why it enhances regularity. It’s got nowhere to go but out. It doesn’t stop there though, with many other health benefits – particularly with regard to weight management, digestive health, heart health, and diabetes – the biggest assault on the human population (and the U.S. healthcare system) since the Bubonic plague, but I digress.
Dietary fiber comes in two forms – both play a role in good health:
- Soluble fiber is “soluble” in water. It has many benefits, such as moderating blood glucose levels and lowering cholesterol – reducing the risk of heart disease. Good sources of soluble fiber include oats, legumes (peas, beans, lentils), barley, and certain fruits and vegetables. For a general list: Sources of Soluble Fiber
- Insoluble fiber does not absorb or dissolve in water. It passes through our digestive system in close to its original form, supporting superior regularity. It offers many benefits to intestinal health, including a reduction in the risk and occurrence of colorectal cancer, hemorrhoids, and constipation. Good sources of insoluble fiber include whole grain products, seeds and nuts, and certain fruits and vegetables. For a general list: Sources of Insoluble Fiber
Benefits of Fiber
The health benefits of fiber are plentiful, check out all the amazing things fiber can do for you:
Without getting too graphic, in a nutshell, fiber adds bulk to help food move efficiently through the digestive tract, keeping the digestive system running smoothly and promoting regularity. In addition to getting your recommended fiber intake, regular exercise and lots of water also promote healthy digestion.
The soluble fiber found in beans, oats, flaxseed and oat bran may help lower total blood cholesterol levels by lowering low-density lipoprotein, or “bad” cholesterol levels. It does this by interfering with its absorption in the digestive tract. Studies have shown that increased fiber in the diet can reduce blood pressure and inflammation, which also promotes heart health.
Diabetes and Blood Sugar Control
Fiber, particularly soluble fiber, can slow the absorption of sugar, which for people with diabetes can help improve blood sugar levels. A diet that includes insoluble fiber has been associated with a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
High-fiber foods give the feeling of satiation or feeling “full” or satisfied, for longer periods, curbing appetite and reducing cravings. Also, foods high in fiber generally require more chewing time, giving your brain time to register when you’re no longer hungry, and reducing the likelihood of overeating. High-fiber foods also tend to be less “energy dense,” meaning they have fewer calories for the same volume of food.
Evidence that dietary fiber reduces cancer is mixed, so take this with a grain of salt. The passage of food through the body is increased when fiber is eaten. Some experts believe this may prevent the harmful substances found in some foods from affecting the colon and may protect against colon cancer. Other types of cancer that are linked with poor nutrition and may be prevented by a fiber-rich diet include breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and uterine cancer.
Are You Getting Your Fiber Fill?
The National Fiber Council recommends an average of 32 grams of fiber per day for a healthy adult. Some requiring more, and some less. Unfortunately, this is a major struggle for many, with most of the American population only getting about 50% of their recommended daily fiber intake (approximately 12 – 17 grams), if that. My personal preference is that if your body can tolerate it, the higher your intake, the better.
To calculate how much fiber you need based on your age and gender, and receive a customized meal plan, click out the National Fiber Council’s fiber calculator. For a relatively comprehensive list of fiber-rich foods, check out the Continuum Health Partners’ fiber content chart.
Getting the recommended intake of fiber in your diet isn’t as hard as it may seem, all it takes is a little know-how and some motivation. Here are some great ways to bring more fiber into your days:
- Eat your fruits and veggies . Kick it up a notch by eating the peels and skins, and enhance the fiber content and benefit from a host of other nutrients that are in there.
- Choose whole fruits and vegetables instead of juices.
- READ nutrition labels. Look for things like “whole grain”, “whole wheat”, and “bran”. Don’t be fooled by “wheat” flour. This is a guise for refined “white” flour – public enemy #1.
- Choose whole grain bread, cereals, and pasta in place of their overly processed, refined “white” counterparts. Replace white flour (or at least a portion of it) with whole wheat flour in baked goods.
- Replace white rice with brown rice.
- Substitute meat with beans or other legumes (dried peas, lentils, or black-eyed peas) in meals.
- Nuts and SEEDS. Add nuts and seeds to salads, vegetables, and snacks. In addition to fiber, these add dimension, nutrition, and satiety to foods. When possible, choose raw or toasted (in your oven) over dry roasted and salted or “candied” nuts.
- Berry UP. Add raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, and boysenberries to cereal, yogurt, or eat them alone as a delicious snack. Coupled with their potent antioxidant content, these berries are higher in fiber than some other fruit selections.
- Snack with a Crunch. If you crave crunchy (or salty) snacks, choose air popped popcorn sprinkled with a little sea salt, whole grain pretzels, or grab some veggies and bust out the hummus!
- Drink UP. Hydrate with water, and lots of it. The more fiber you take in, the more water your body needs to process (and remove) it. There are many schools of thought on this, including the traditional eight 8 oz. glasses of water per day, but this doesn’t take individual needs into consideration. A more recent approach is to drink half your body weight in ounces. For example, if you weigh 200 lbs., drink 100 ounces (about 3 liters) of water daily. More is better here, and the more active you are and drier your climate, the more you’ll need for optimal functioning. A good rule of thumb is to aim for colorless or slightly yellow urine.
Get your grocery list out. Fill your shopping cart (and tummy!) with incredible sources of fiber:
High in Fiber
Fruits and vegetables that contain 5 grams or more fiber per reference amount (20% or more of the Daily Value per reference amount) qualify to carry the label “high in fiber.”
- Lima Beans
- Pigeon Peas
- Pink Beans
- Pinto Beans
- Small White Beans
- Winged Beans
Good Source of Fiber
Fruits and vegetables that contain 2.5 grams but less than 5 grams fiber per reference amount (10-19% of the Daily Value per reference amount) qualify to carry the label “good source of fiber.”
- Brussels Sprouts
- Figs, Dried
- Green Beans
- Peas, Split
- Plums, Dried
- Sweet Potato
- White Beans
What would you add to the list for an extra dose of fiber? Here are some more good fiber resources to check out:
- Worlds Healthiest Foods. Everything you ever wanted to know.
- Dietary fiber: Essential for a healthy diet
- Cooking Light’s many articles on Fiber
- The Best Sources Of Fiber
This week I challenge you to evaluate how your fiber intake is now and where you want it to be in the future. Take a moment to reflect on how you can effectively incorporate the above healthy habits and foods into your current lifestyle. Leave a comment below with one way you are going to FILL UP on fiber. I cant wait to see you glow and watch you live FULLY POWERED.
Thanks again for being such a supportive and amazing fitness family. Hope to see you soon…. till then – keep shining 🙂
Other Things To Check Out This Week:
- The Balletone DIFFERENCE. Dance, fitness, yoga, cross training all in one nice format 🙂
- Free Circuit Training Exercise Video. Try my little workout routine once, twice, or three times through! Leave a comment and let me know if it gets you sweating 🙂
- Think Before You Drink! Conscious Cocktail Choices.
- Be my friend? 🙂