Fiber plays an essential role in your heart, digestive and skin health. Many benefits include:
- Blood Sugar Control – by slowing down digestion, the breakdown of carbohydrates, and the absorption of sugar
- Heart Health – by lowering cholesterol levels, and reducing your risk of heart attack, heart disease and stroke
- Healthy Weight Management – by increasing your feeling of fullness; eat less and feel satisfied longer
- Healthy Skin – by removing yeast and fungus out of your body by means other than your skin (which usually results in acne and rashes)
- Supports Digestion – by reducing your risk of hemorrhoids, diverticulitis, gall and kidney stones, and providing relief from IBS
So, what are our options when it comes to fiber? Well, whole grains have been known as the best source of fiber, but why are so many people going gluten-free?According to a growing number of experts, humans aren’t actually designed to eat grains and, by doing so, it might be damaging your gut. In fact, to improve uncomfortable digestive symptoms such as bloating, gas and abdominal pains, it is recommended to maintain a very low fiber diet for a while. We will explore this topic more in depth next week, but for now, let’s look at all the options available for those that have a healthy gut and are not drawn to going gluten-free.
Fiber is commonly classified as soluble, which dissolves in water, or insoluble, which doesn’t dissolve. Most plant-based foods, such as oatmeal and beans, contain both fibers. It’s just the amount of each type that varies in different foods.
Soluble fiber dissolves and forms a gel-like material in water which helps lower glucose and cholesterol levels. Soluble fiber is found in oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, barley, psyllium, and chia seeds.
Insoluble water absorbs water while going through the digestive track, which increases stool bulk and promotes bowel regularity. It acts like a scrub brush in your colon, which helps with constipation and irregular stools. Good sources of insoluble fiber are whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, gluten-free whole grains, nuts, beans and vegetables, such as cauliflower, green beans, potatoes and chia seeds, as well.
I encourage you to be mindful when you are shopping for snacks such as healthy chips or crackers. Read the labels. Ideally, you don’t want to buy anything with less than 5 grams of fiber, 3 at the least. You need the fiber to slow down the digestion of carbohydrates and absorption of sugar. Otherwise, it will only lead to a significant spike in blood sugar.
Along with the adequate fiber intake, make sure to drink plenty of water and get your daily exercise to support the movement in your digestive tract.