There is a never ending craze about making sure that you’re getting plenty of protein everyday. Why? Because protein helps to rebuild and repair muscles and bones. So for obvious reasons, it’s a needed macro. However, what if I told you you were getting enough protein, and it’s really fiber you should be taking a look at instead.
What is Fiber?
Fiber, or dietary fiber is a plant derived food that typically cannot be completely broken down by the human body when consumed. They have two main components which include soluble and insoluble fiber. These are common components of plant based foods such as legumes, whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. Many times we’ve heard, you need to eat your fruits and vegetables. But why? It’s not necessarily to increase vision, or build strong muscles independently. A lot more goes into it.
Insoluble vs. Soluble
The advantages of eating fibers generally differ depending on what your overall source is. In other words, are the fiber types you’re eating soluble or insoluble? For soluble fiber, these forms of fiber tend to dissolve in water. It’s typically a fermented product in color and turns into gases. Different variations of this type of fiber include oats and barley.
Insoluble fiber is essentially fiber that cannot be dissolved in water. Think wheat bran and cellulose. This is the fiber that tends to stop you up and cause things like constipation.
Digging Deeper into Fiber
Within the two main types of fiber, diversity is key. For example, if you were to eat bulking fibers. These various types of fiber tend to contribute to regularity in bowel movements. Now, if you’re consuming viscous fiber these types of fiber tend to thicken your fecal mass. Another form of fiber to consider is your fermentable fiber. This form of fiber is the heavy lifter in your gut. Why? Because it’s in charge of feeding the bacteria and microbiota in your large intestine. This by default ends up creating short fatty acid chains which serve their purposes in the gut.
Even with all of this knowledge on hand, the conversation still tends to steer towards the need for more protein in a person’s diet. But what if I told you while most individuals in the United States are eating double their daily recommendation in protein, only 5% of the American population are actually hitting their daily intake for fiber. That means that 16.4 million people aren’t eating their daily fill of fiber.
The Body’s Need for Fiber
Okay, so then how can I fix the fact that I’m not eating enough fiber. Well, the basic guidelines are that women should eat between 21 and 25 grams of fiber per day while men should go for somewhere between 30 and 38 grams of fiber per day. So, what can that look like?
This could look like eating 100 grams of uncooked whole grains like oats, barley, or rye. Or if you’re not all for eating uncooked things you could eat a cup of cooked beans, a half cup of leafy greens, or between 2 to 3 servings of fruits. All of which add up to around 25 grams of fiber. Or if you’re looking to eat around 30 grams of fiber, then you could add on a bit more to the examples above or maybe incorporate other high fiber snacks.
High Fiber Snack Ideas:
- Whole Grain Bread
- Baked Potatoes
- Whole Grain Pasta
Fiber’s Many Benefits
But what can you expect when you start to add more fiber to your diet? Well, there are quite a few changes you can expect. The good news is that they’re good for you. The first is the normalization of bowel movements for example. Not only does fiber change the size and weight of your stool, it’s also what helps to soften it. Making it easier to relieve yourself. The bulkier your stool is, the easier it is to have a bowel movement.
But fiber doesn’t just help you pass the stool out of your system. It’s also responsible for keeping your bowel health in check. What does that even mean? Well, if you’re on a high fiber diet, you’re less likely to develop hemorrhoids in your colon. It can also lower the risk of certain cancers such as colorectal cancer.
Something that most people don’t know is that, while fiber plays a huge role in your bowels. It also can help in two other areas of your health. Cholesterol and blood sugar. In terms of cholesterol, the soluble fibers of certain foods can help lower lower density lipoprotein (i.e., bad cholesterol). As for blood sugar, soluble fiber is able to slow absorption of sugar and thus help to regulate sugar in the blood.
Peptides for Gut Health
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