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Fiber: What is it and How Much is Optimal?

Fiber

Fiber - What is it?

Maybe you have heard of Fiber. Maybe you haven’t. Have you heard of Vegetables? Have you heard of Plants? These are the two most common sources of Fiber, though they are not the only ones out there that humans can consume. Fiber is explained to be “roughage” or “bulk”. Fiber has many benefits, though the most known benefit is it helps keep our bowel movements consistent.

Gut specialists will tell you that Fiber is the solution to restoring your health and gut microbiota. 97% of Americans are not consuming enough Fiber in their diet. Therefore, this is an important topic to discuss.

Let’s talk a little bit more about Fiber.

The definition of Fiber: The dictionary says that Fiber is dietary materials that are resistant to the action of digestive enzymes. Fiber is from plant-derived foods.

There are two types of Fiber: Soluble Fiber and Insoluble Fiber. Soluble Fiber dissolves and Insoluble Fiber does not dissolve. Humans are incapable of digesting fiber on our own, though our gut (a healthy gut that is) contains the proper enzymes that it needs to break down and digest the fiber content. If our gut is unhealthy (which can occur for many reasons and that is another topic), then we may not break down fiber efficiently leading to autoimmune disease, constipation, diarrhea, bloating, abdominal pain, diverticulosis, and more. Again, this is a topic for another day - so, let’s get back to the importance of Fiber, what it does for us, and how much we need each day.


Why do I need Fiber?

Many of us have been told at least once in our lives that Fiber is important for our bowel movements - to improve constipation or to improve diarrhea. Wait, what? We need fiber for diarrhea and we need fiber for constipation? These are opposites.

Yes - Fiber is important for both. Fiber actually helps to bulk to the stool (hence the help with the loose, diarrhea stool). Fiber ALSO helps with pushing stool through the bowels and moving it out (hence the help with constipation). We need fiber for both issues.

What most individuals do NOT know is that fiber also helps with:

  • Lowering the BAD cholesterol values (LDL Cholesterol)
  • Improving the GOOD cholesterol values (HDL Cholesterol)
  • Stabilizing Blood Glucose Levels (your blood sugar, thus improving prediabetes, diabetes mellitus type II, insulin resistance) and as a result of this it ALSO improves Triglyceride levels (another cholesterol value)
  • Improving Satiety - this is the hunger level in our body. The individual feels more full when they consume adequate amounts of Fiber
  • Provides Prebiotic to the Gut Environment which then helps to improve digestive enzymes and the healthy bacteria of the gut
  • Improves hydration level, resulting in improved Energy levels, too!!
  • Reduces Inflammation. In Fact, Fiber Fueled by Dr. Will Bulsiewicz says, “Every 5 grams of fiber consumption leads to an 18% lower risk of death from colorectal cancer…”
  • Can you believe that the plants you eat and the amount of fiber in your diet can improve your cholesterol, hunger, cravings, and energy?
  • Can you believe that fiber can even lower your risk of cancer?! Why aren’t we all eating more fiber?

Where can I get Fiber?

There are many sources of Fiber in our World. We want to be careful that we are not consuming too many processed foods or high carbohydrate (sugar) foods in the process, though the most common Fiber Sources are:

  • Oats
  • Flaxseed
  • Spinach
  • Brussels
  • Broccoli
  • Green Peas
  • Seaweed
  • Apple
  • Berries: Blueberries, Raspberries
  • Lima Beans
  • Squash
  • Artichoke
  • Prunes
  • Pumpkin
  • Shredded Wheat
  • Sweet Potato
  • Legumes: Navy Beans and Black Beans

How Much Fiber Should I be Eating?

If you want a general recommendation, we recommend that you are consuming a serving of cooked vegetables two times per day at your meals. This could be a combination of items from above. The cooked vegetables should be in addition to your one serving of fruit per day. Thus, you are getting at least 2 servings of cooked vegetables and one serving of fruit daily which will certainly boost your fiber intake.

If you want more specifics: A minimum recommendation for Fiber intake would be 30 grams per day. What does that look like?

  • 1/2 cup of oatmeal contains 2 grams of fiber for breakfast
  • 30 grams of Pea Protein: 2 grams of fiber for breakfast
  • 1/2 cup of blueberries contains 2 grams of fiber for snack
  • 2 tablespoons of Almond Butter contains 3 grams of fiber for snack
  • 4 cups of spring mix lettuce contains 8 grams of fiber for lunch (along with your protein)
  • ¼ cup quinoa contains 3 grams of fiber for lunch
  • 1 cup of edamame contains 8 grams of fiber for snack
  • 3 cups of chopped broccoli contains 7 grams of fiber for dinner (along with your protein)

This is a total of 35 grams of protein. This would be an example of getting adequate fiber in your day with the addition of adding the proper protein content to your meals. What do you think?! Are you close to this??


Homework…

Yes, it is homework time - track your food for a week in an App like My Fitness Pal or Lose It. Pay attention to your macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, and fats), though also paying close attention to your Fiber intake!! Let’s see how close you are and the differences you feel when you start to reach the recommended goal.

P.S. Don’t forget about 100 ounces of plain water per day!!


Jenni Berman

Jenni Berman

Jenni, owner of Berman Health and Wellness, works alongside Berman Physical Therapy to help individuals get back in shape, improve their gut health, and to stay feeling young so they can stay in the game! After graduating from the University of Florida with a Bachelor’s in Applied Physiology and Kinesiology, she went on to obtain a Master’s of Physician Assistant Studies. She has a passion for helping individuals to feel better than they thought imaginable through natural approaches, nutrition, and whole body treatment. She is also a Certified Personal Trainer and Nutrition Specialist. When she is not working with patients or with clients, you can find Jenni on the boat, in the sun, enjoying time with her husband, Jake,her daughter Stella June, spending time in Jacksonville with her family, or playing with her [CUTE!] pups!!
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