Sufficient fiber intake has many benefits, several of which we’ll talk about today.
However if you’re a fiber newbie there are some factors you’ll have to take into account to avoid excessive gas and bloating. So what is fiber anyways?
Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that is not fully digestible. It sweeps through your gut (and out the other end) and works some magic in a couple of different ways. The government recommended intake for fiber is 25-35 grams per day, but some studies have shown that 75-100 grams daily could be even more beneficial.
To give you an idea of how much food we’re talking about, one large apple has about 5 grams. The average American only consumes 10 grams of fiber daily, so we’ve all got some catching up to do!
Here are some of the ways fiber is fantastic:
- Stay full longer. Fiber slows food down as it exits your stomach, meaning you stay satisfied longer between meals.
- Poop better. Fiber eases the passing of stools throughout the digestive tract, making for a comfortable departure.
- Decrease your cholesterol. The type of fiber found in oats, barley, and beans has been shown to be helpful at reducing cholesterol.
- Regulate your blood sugar. Fiber delays glucose absorption into the blood. That way instead of a sugar high and subsequent crash, you get a nice even blood sugar balance.
It’s important to get fiber from whole foods; supplements could result in fiber overdose and gastrointestinal upset. Good sources of fiber include fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains.
If your diet is low in fiber now, increase your intake gradually. A rapid surge in fiber intake can result in gas, bloating, or diarrhea- not fun! Try adding in 5 grams per week over several weeks. It is also vital to increase your water intake along with fiber. Fiber needs water to help move it along the digestive tract.