Proper fiber intake is a key ingredient for creating lasting health. It helps to keep our gut microbiome in check, helps removes waste from the body, and helps us maintain a healthy weight. Not only that, when you regularly get enough fiber in your diet, it can help lower your risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke and all types of cancer.
So what is fiber?
Fiber is an indigestible carbohydrate. Unlike other nutrients, fiber passes through the digestive tract relatively undigested. Fiber is only found in plant-based foods. Animal products such as fish, chicken, meats, dairy, etc.) do not contain fiber, which a lot of people believe it does.
There are two basic types of fiber found in plants: soluble and insoluble. Simply put, soluble fiber is found inside the plant and insoluble fiber is found on the outside. For example, the skin of an apple is insoluble fiber, and the flesh is soluble. Most fiber-rich foods are made up of both types, however the body uses them differently.
What is soluble fiber?
Soluble fiber dissolves in water and other bodily fluids such as the acid in your stomach. As it moves through your digestive tract, it absorbs water and creates a gel-like substance. Once it gets to the colon, it’s fermented by bacteria. This process helps produce short chain fatty acids, which improve overall gut health and provide fuel for your gut cells. These include:
- Stabilizing blood glucose levels
- Lowering LDL and total blood cholesterol
- Increasing fullness and delaying hunger
- Improving gut health and immunity
- Most beans
- Chia seed
- Hemp seed
- Brussel sprouts
- Sweet potato
- Dried fruit
What is insoluble fiber?
Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water. Insoluble fiber absorbs water helping to form softer, bulkier stools and improve elimination. While insoluble fiber is not fermented by bacteria in the colon, it still has positive effects on gut health. It helps reduce your risk for constipation, hemorrhoids, and some forms of colorectal cancer.
- Bran cereals
- Fruits with seeds and edible skin (like berries, apples, etc)
- Beans and lentils
- Green peas
- Spinach and other leafy greens
- Most whole grains
How much fiber should I eat?
Depending on the source the amount may vary, however, the recommended intake for dietary fiber in a 2,000 calorie diet is 25 grams per day for adult females and 38 grams per day for adult males. That is my general rule.
Joseph Teti | Founder of T1 Performance Nutrition