Fiber helps move things through your body and efficiently contributes to good health. It has sometimes been called ‘roughage’ and includes non-digestible carbohydrates. Fiber promotes weight loss, lowers blood sugar, and relieves constipation. There are two types of fiber; soluble and insoluble. The way they work and interact with water greatly differentiates the two.
- Soluble: Soluble fiber mixes with water to make a gel-like substance that slows down the release of digested food into the gut. This fiber helps with weight loss, especially belly fat. It is metabolized and nourishes the good bacteria found in the gut. Nourishing the gut bacteria is effective for healthy bowel movements as stool is made up of dead gut flora. Soluble fiber is responsible for slowing down digestion, making us feel full longer.
- Insoluble: Insoluble fiber does not mix or dissolve with water; it does not get absorbed by the body. Rather it absorbs water like a sponge and virtually has no nutritional value. Too much insoluble fiber prevents absorption of certain nutrients. The excess fiber binds to minerals like zinc, calcium, iron or magnesium and prevents absorption.
Most people don’t come close to getting enough fiber they need. The average American only gets about 15g of fiber each day. The recommended values for women and men are 25g and 38g respectively. On the other hand, consuming too much fiber can prove to be an issue. When you feed the bacteria too much fiber, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and other food intolerances may become an issue. Having too much fiber also interferes with the amount of vitamins and minerals your body absorbs. This can be prevented by monitoring and tracking the amount of soluble fiber you are eating.
Sources of Fiber
Many fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes are full of fiber. Ideally, you want to get your fiber from naturally occurring sources. Stay away from ‘added’ fiber products. The diet industry thrives on ‘high-fiber’ foods. They add fiber to their products so their shoppers are under the impression it is healthier. Adding fiber also tricks the buyer to think they can eat more without eating tons of extra calories. Another trick to look out for is the whole-grain theory. Many people suggest eating more whole grains when asked how to incorporate more fiber into their diets. However, the amount of fiber present in the whole grain doesn’t cancel out the fact that grains are bad for you. Below is a list of naturally fiber-rich choices:
- Flax seeds
- Brussels sprouts
- Green, leafy vegetables
- Chia seeds
- Sweet potatoes
- Dark chocolate (70% or higher)
Too Busy Bullets
- There are two types of fiber; soluble and insoluble.
- Soluble fiber will help with weight loss, digestion, and gut health.
- Fiber can be found in many vegetables, berries, and seeds.
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