Fiber is often in the shadows of macros/micros, but we need it daily to support our immunity, stabilize our blood sugar, and keep us satiated throughout our day.
At a glance: A day of fiber.
- Swap your pressed juice for a veggie smoothie. Add 1/2 avocado (7grams), 2 tbsp flax (4grams), or chia seeds (9.8grams) to start to jump the day in fiber. Aim for 12grams in total.
- Snack on whole fruit. One large pear with skin has 7 grams with 1 ounce of almonds (3.5 grams). Aim for 7 to 8 grams.
- At lunch, eat a cup of sautéed greens like kale (5.2 grams)
- For dinner, incorporate lentils into your meal. How about red lentil Dahl or Mediterranean lentil soup. 1 cup lentils (15.6 grams), Bringing your total up to 40 plus grams! You did it. It feels good.
Switching abruptly to a high-fiber diet can cause gas and bloat. Instead, increase slowly and challenge yourself to 50 grams a day.
Not all fiber is the same. When people think of fiber, they think to reach for a bran muffin, but there is more to it.
Vegetables and whole fruit, for example, diversify our gut flora with favorable soluble and insoluble fiber feeding and populating the good microbes populating different species that are symbiotic to us. In addition, the microbes in our gut are tiny factories manufacturing by-products (short-chain fatty acids like butyric acid and Vitamin K), that are really good for you!
Dietary fiber, also known as roughage or bulk, includes the parts of plant foods your body can’t digest or absorb. Unlike other food components, such as fats, proteins, or carbohydrates — which your body breaks down and absorbs — your body doesn’t digest fiber. Instead, it passes relatively intact through your stomach, small intestine, and colon and out of your body.
Lentils, most whole grains, cauliflower, beans, and vegetables like okra and corn are common examples of insoluble fiber. This type of fiber promotes the movement of material through your digestive system. In addition, it increases stool bulk, so it can benefit those who struggle with constipation or irregular stools. The next key play is soluble fiber, which is found in almost all other plant foods.
Beans, most vegetables, sweet potato, flax and chia seeds, pears, psyllium husk, are a few examples of soluble fiber. This type of fiber dissolves in water, or hydrophilic, meaning it attracts and holds water, and this gel expansion makes you full. These foods slow down the absorption of carbs in your body, so you don’t have peaks in your blood sugar. The bacteria in your gut metabolize soluble fiber from fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, and most whole grains.
This leads to lower cholesterol, blood sugar, and insulin; cancer prevention; balanced hormone levels, removing excess estrogen and reducing the risk of breast cancer; vital vitamins and minerals; food production for colon cells; and so much more.
Hello Palate recommends a food-first approach before reaching for fiber supplements. Unless you cannot consume fiber from whole food sources and exhausted every best possible option, supplements can benefit you. The food first approach works synergistically from the different nutrients, antioxidants, and fiber types within one whole food. In addition, it’s important to develop an awareness of foods’ energetic qualities to cook more often and have a better relationship with our eating habits.
I know this space of nutritional therapy can seem tedious, yet the state of our nutrition impacts how we relate to the world around us. How we communicate to ourselves and others and how we effectively approach our lives with clarity in our actions and mind-body connections depend deeply on our eating habits.
So make sure you eat more fiber.
You can be strategic and smart about it now that you know why and how to eat more of it throughout your day.