The word fiber conjures up memories of your grandma taking her Metamucil or prunes to stay “regular.” Well, there is truth in this old wives’ tale. We now know how far-reaching the role of healthy fiber is in our diet. It is essential to our digestive system and overall well-being.
It is estimated that most adults are falling short of 25-30 grams of fiber daily. Having just 10 grams each day is linked to a 10% lower risk of colorectal cancer. There are many different types of fiber that can be incorporated into our daily meals. Fiber helps our digestive tract absorb nutrients from foods and sweep it clean. Also, it can reduce risk of heart disease, stroke, and Type 2 diabetes. People who eat a high-fiber diet have a reduced risk of death from diseases and infections.
So, what is fiber?
We think of fiber in two different categories:
- Soluble – It absorbs liquid. It transforms into a polysaccharide sugar to feed the bacteria that make SCFA’s or butyrate. It can maintain healthy blood glucose levels, reduce cholesterol, and help with chronic diarrhea possibly from IBS.
- Insoluble – This is the fiber that keep us regular. It’s the plant fiber that sweeps the colon clean of waste. It does not break down, and it gives a feeling of fullness.
But there is another. Resistant Starch! This also will feed bacteria that make SCFA’s. It resists breakdown until it reaches the large intestines where it can then act as a prebiotic to feed the good bacteria. It can decrease your risk of colon cancer, strengthen your immune system, and improve bowel health.
If you’re introducing fiber to your diet for the first time, it’s best to start low and slow. A gut that’s not used to fiber can react, and you can experience bloating, excess gas, abdominal pain, and excess gurgling. Drinking more clean water can help the fiber work its miracle.
Soluble Fiber Foods
- Sweet Potatoes
- Steel-cut oats
- Sunflower seeds, nuts, & butters
- Wheat bran
- Rice bran
- Fruit & Vegetable skins
- Whole grains
- Green beans
- Green Bananas
- Whole grains
- Cooked and cooled rice