How Eating Fiber (and cutting back on meat) Can Change Your Life
Dietary Fiber is found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes; however, fiber is not found in fruit or vegetable juices nor is it found in meat. There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Fiber provides a range of benefits including helping to control blood sugar levels, lowering cholesterol levels, maintaining healthy gut health, normalizing bowel movements and helping you to lose weight.
Soluble fiber gets its name because it can dissolve in water: aka water soluble. Soluble fiber slows down gastric emptying so it can make you feel fuller, longer, and can help with weight loss. It also allows your body more time to digest your foods thus your body is able to extract as much nutrients as possible as food slowly passes through your Gi tract. Soluble fiber does not contribute to blood sugar spikes since it is not well absorbed.
Insoluble does not dissolve in water, this is beneficial for the body since it can ferment and provide your body with beneficial prebiotics which have been shown to improve intestinal health. Insoluble fiber helps you to pass stools more quickly and helps to prevent things such as hemorrhoids and constipation. This type of fiber is mostly found in the skins of fruit and in whole grains.
So how much fiber do you need? The institute of medicine recommends men 50 or younger to consume 38 grams of fiber per day while men 51 and older should consume around 30 grams per day. Women age 50 or younger should consume 25 grams of fiber per day while women age 51 or older should consume 21 grams per day.
Since fiber is like a sponge in the body, make sure to consume plenty of water (~ 2 liters a day for the average adult) so that you do not experience constipation.
So, how can you get more fiber into your day? Eat more whole foods. Here are some fiber rich foods
- 1 apple (with skin) 4.5 grams fiber
- 1 cup oatmeal 4 grams fiber
- 1 cup black beans 15 grams
- 1 avocado 10 grams
- 1 cup berries 8 grams
- 1 banana 3 grams
- 20 almonds 3 grams
- 1 medium carrot 3 grams
- 1 cup split peas 16 grams
- 1 cup whole wheat spaghetti 6.3 grams
- 1 cup brown rice 3.5 grams
- 2 slices whole wheat toast 4 grams
If you are finding yourself becoming gassy or bloated from eating fibrous foods, then you may need to work with a dietitian to figure out which foods work best for you.
Christian is a registered dietitian and sustainability advocate from North Carolina, currently residing in New York City. He combines his deep respect for nature, and it’s perfect systems, with his education and experience in fitness and nutrition to provide his clients with an integrative and holistic approach to wellness. Christian strongly believes in the power of education in order to evoke positive change and believes that one’s true health can be achieved only when a desire to integrate into nature’s system exists.