Anyone that exposes themselves to any source of media -even if it’s not particularly health based- has heard it drummed out time and time again: Americans don’t get enough fiber in their diets. But do you really worry about it? It’s supposed to be one of those things that we care about and nod in agreement because we all know it’s a good idea, but secretly, between the nods, we’re all thinking, Yeah right! Why is getting enough fiber any more important than any of the million other things I’m supposed to be doing for my body -what does fiber even do anyway??
Chances are if you’re reading this, you live a pretty active lifestyle and you may even pride yourself in the knowledge you have on fiber and it’s importance. But it never hurts to go over some basics– and maybe you’ll learn few things. So, Gnarly faithful, over the next couple days, I’m going to give you a basic idea of why fiber is so important, the differences you’ll find in qualities of fiber and how you can include more of it in your diet. Let’s start on part 1:
How Much Fiber?
The current recommendation for a healthy adult is around 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men per day. That’s extremely high and most experts will tell you if you’re hitting anywhere between 20-30 grams a day, you’re doing a good job.
Two Types of Fiber
Basically, there are two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and forms a gel-like structure. This is the type of fiber that helps with lowering cholesterol and glucose (blood sugar) levels. You find soluble fiber in oats, apples, citrus fruits (oranges are a great source), barley and even quiona (which is an even better source of insoluble fiber). Insoluble fiber is just the opposite, it won’t absorb into water and it’s responsible for fiber’s reputation in keeping your pipes regular. Insoluble fiber accelerates the movement of food through your system so it’s great if you’re feeling constipated. Good sources of insoluble fiber are Whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts, beans and vegetables such as cauliflower, green beans and potatoes.
Health Benefits of Fiber
There are quite a few benefits to a diet high in both soluble and insoluble fiber.
Helps Maintain A Healthy Weight– Because fiber takes longer to chew, you not only allow your body to catch up to what your eating, register that you are full and help you avoid overeating, but because fiber is also digested more slowly in the stomach, you’ll have the feeling of being full for longer. It’s a very natural way to help monitor your weight.
Helps Control Blood Sugar Levels– This is an extremely important benefit to a healthy diet with plenty of fiber. By slowing the absorption rate of glucose into the bloodstream, fiber can keep you from feeling blood sugar spikes and their mood swings. Plus, the more you can control these spikes, the less likely you are to put yourself at risk for developing diabetes.
In the next post, I’ll go over some more health benfits and talk about where are some good sources to get more fiber in your diet.
In the meantime, check out our Gnarly Feast, which has 12 grams of fiber from whole food sources! Definitely a step in the right direction.