Fiber is Fab.

So January is National Fiber Month, National Prune Month, AND Oatmeal Month.

The month of January is clearly concerned about our bowel health. Well our general health. Fiber is a really important player in our diets.

Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that our bodies don’t digest or rather (in some cases) digest/utilize a bit differently than other carbohydrates. Normally carbs are broken down into sugar- (glucose). Fiberous foods are not. They remain undigested. This can actually help our bodies better regulate the sugars that are released after a meal. Aka assisting the body in helping manage its own energy supply.

Since foods high in fiber are “digested” differently they can have an impact on everything from helping your bm’s (bowel movements), assisting with blood sugar control, heart health, and appetite/weight control.

So here’s the nitty gritty with our fibers. There are two types- soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. AKA digestible and non-digestible fiber, respectively.

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Soluble fiber readily dissolves into water. This type of fiber helps in balancing blood glucose levels, helps people feel fuller longer, and also has a positive impact on heart health- specifically in helping to lower LDL cholesterol (the one you want to be lower).

Foods that contain soluble fiber are: oatmeal, blueberries, beans, lentils, nuts, strawberries, and apples.

Insoluble fiber does not dissolve into water, it works as a natural draino- it keeps things moving!!!  It keeps your poo in the express lane through your GI tract – not necessarily more quickly – but it moreso prevents constipation.

You will find insoluble fiber if foods like: whole wheat, whole grain couscous, brown rice, legumes, carrots, cucumbers, and tomatoes

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So as you can see both types of fiber have different functions – and all fiber is helpful in terms of preventing diseases like heart disease, GI issues, and diabetes.

Here is the deal though.  A majority of folks do not get enough fiber.  On average people only get about 15-18 grams of fiber per day.  Most adult need 25-40 grams of fiber per day.

Women tend to be on the lower end, and men on the higher end. However there would be no issue with women trying to take in 40 g per day – as long as they gradually build up to that intake.  Men should remain on the higher end of the this recommendation due to issues with colon and prostate cancers.

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If you are trying to increase your fiber intake follow the tips below – and make sure you are also getting adequate water intake, and don’t increase too fast.

-Incorporate beans/lentils into your diet

-Eat fruits and veggies with skins – and eat the skins too- potatoes, apples, pears, cucumbers

-Make your grain intake – whole grains.  Incorporate brown rice, quinoa, and select crackers like wasa crackers

-Jazz it up – take a basic oatmeal (great offering of fiber), and add a tablespoon of chia seeds, and some raspberries or blackberries for a fiber fiesta

-Snack on and incorporate more fruits and veggies versus drinking juices

– Start your day off with a cereal like oatmeal, or a cold cereal that has “whole grain” as the very first ingredient

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Fiber snack bars are ok – and I say just “ok” because fiber 1 bars for instance – they are a great way to get some fiber, and satiate your sweet tooth.   Their ingredients list is quite long – and there is a fair amount of sugar in them.  One a day is one thing – but I have encountered folks who eat quite a few in one day.

So moral of the story.  Fiber is good, gradually eat more of it, and make sure if you are eating more – you increase your H20 intake as well.

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