March 29th, 2012 by Digestive Detective
These were the words of expert dietitian and nutrition specialist Jonny Bowden at a fitness conference 2 years ago. Fiber is essential. It aids in digestion and helps regulate blood sugar levels. This fact is essential: When your blood sugar levels are unregulated or out of balance, your energy will peak and plummet, you'll experience swings in your hunger patterns, and you'll be more likely to crave sweets. Continued spikes and drops in blood sugar eventually create more insulin resistance in the body which leads to fat storage.
Fitting in More Fiber
The recommended daily intake of fiber is 28 grams for adult women and 35 grams for men; unfortunately, most people fall far short of this amount. A smart goal would be to begin finding ways to fit more fiber in each day to incrementally move closer to the ideal amount.
The first place to add fiber is through whole foods in your daily nutrition. Fiber supplements may seem convenient, but they offer very little fiber compared to whole food sources. For example, one serving of Metamucil offers 3 grams of fiber, whereas one serving of black beans provides 14 grams of dietary fiber! Other high-fiber foods include sweet potatoes, oatmeal, and fruits with the skin on such as organic apples and pears.
Pair with Protein
Another way to fight fat and stay satiated through the day is to include a protein food source with the fiber that you eat. Protein takes longer to digest than carbohydrates and therefore helps you feel fuller longer. Protein is also essential for the development of lean muscle tissue – the key component in maintaining a good metabolic rate. The more lean muscle you carry, the higher your metabolism; the higher your metabolism, the better your body is at oxidizing or burning fat.
Fiber & Digestion
Fiber also plays a vital role in digestion and elimination. Soluble and insoluble fiber sweeps through the digestive track, helping to eliminate toxins and waste; the more this waste material is removed, the better your gut will function. Improved gut function means greater absorption and assimilation of nutrients which get transported into the bloodstream for various body and organ functions. All in all, the better you digestive health is, the better your overall health will be.
Try this experiment over the next 2 weeks:
- Use a food tracking app such as LiveStrong.com's Daily Plate to log your food. Each day your macronutrients (proteins, carbs and fats) will display as well as the micronutrients (sodium, cholesterol, fiber).
- Note your average daily fiber intake -- if it falls far short of the RDA, add a high-fiber food to 2-3 meals per day.
- After adding the fiber foods, track a few more days to recognize the improvement and increase to your fiber consumption.
Here's some examples to add to meals:
- mixed veggies in a breakfast omelet
- a pear with mixed nuts for a snack
- side dish of mixed broccoli & cauliflower to lunch
- half a sweet potato with dinner
If your goal is weight loss or maintenance, improved digestion, or you are attempting to lower your cholesterol levels, start adding a high fiber food to eat of your meals or snacks and be amazed by the positive effect on your body.
Jason Bosley-Smith, CSCS, FDN is a personal trainer, lifestyle coach and certified in Functional Diagnostic Nutrition. He is the founder of www.digestivedetective.com – a comprehensive health and wellness website that provides articles, podcasts, fitness videos, webinars and customized online coaching for individuals seeking to improve their digestive health and optimize their nutritional status.