Did you know the recommended daily intake for Fiber is 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men? On average we only get about 15 grams. So why is it so important to Get enough Fiber? Let’s start off with this analogy, we flush the toilet everyday right, but what happens if we don’t ever scrub the toilet? Image if even that smooth porcelain finish can create buildup what that football field sized area of your mucus lined intestines will do? Now add constipation, slow transit time, bacteria and fungus that are out of balance and it’s not hard to see why so many of our problems start in our intestines. So, without even going into detail about fiber’s many other benefits such as weight management, heart health, controlling blood sugar and preventing cancer, let’s really understand what’s going on in those intestines.
Have you ever heard of the beet test? Buy some beets (not jarred) and enjoy them either roasted, boiled or raw then watch for the red pigment to show up in your bowel movements. Ideally, this will not take longer than 12 to 24 hours. Slow transit time can cause a number of intestinal issues suck as constipation and hemorrhoids. Leaky gut is another common issue affecting many of us today. The intestinal lining becomes damaged and begins to let foreign substances pass into our body. This breach is being recognized as the potential cause of autoimmune disorders, allergies, arthritis, cardiovascular disease and weight gain just to name a few.
Increasing your fiber intake is one of the first steps to improving gut health. A healthy and balanced microbiome (mini-ecosystem) does a wonderful job of breaking down foods, generating nutrients and improving our immune system. This symbiotic relationship between bacteria, bacteriophages, fungi, protozoa and viruses works best when each are in balance. Some of these bacteria rely on us to provide soluble fiber for them to digest (ferment) and in return produce short-chain-fatty acids and Vitamin K. These fermentable soluble fibers also act as pre-biotics by promoting the proliferation of health promoting bacteria strains.
Fiber also helps strengthen the gut muscles improving the action that moves food through the intestines called peristalsis. Peristalsis improves transit time and ease of bowel movement. Soluble and insoluble fiber act together as a scrub, brushing away wastes from the intestinal wall and like a sponge, sucking up harmful toxins and chemicals. Drinking enough water is even more important now that the added fiber will want to use some H2O to bulk up and soften your stool. How much water is that you may ask, divide your body weight in half and drink approximately that number of ounces each day. For example, if your weight is 180 pounds, drink 90 ounces of water. One cup equals 8oz, so 8 times 11 equals 88 oz. or just under 11 cups. Two or three of these cups can be herbal tea. Listen to your body and remember sometimes hunger or a sugar craving (especially cravings for sugary pop/ juice) is a sign of thirst. Your body has already gone into dehydration if you feel super thirsty so try not to wait that long. You can also drink too much water. Again, listen to your body, especially your urine, it should be pale yellow.
The following are some easy ways to start increasing your fiber:
- A bowl of oatmeal in the morning gives you 8 grams of fiber and helps to lower your cholesterol!
- Throw beans into a salad or soup. Lentils contain 6 – 9 grams per ½ cup portion.
- Hemp, Oat Bran, Psyllium, and Flaxseeds are wonderful fiber choices!
- Brown rice or quinoa, roasted veggies sautéed in garlic and fish make a great tasting dinner that’s full of fiber.
- Add hempseed or flaxseed to your salad for a boost of essential fatty acids and 2 – 5 grams of fiber.
- Eat potatoes with the skin on.
- Snack on raw vegetables, fruits, and berries. Keep them near you all day
As your body is adjusting to the increased amount of fiber, you may experience gas and or bloating. This is completely normal and after a week or so, should go away.
- Ginger or peppermint teas are very soothing and help to get rid of gas naturally.
- Digestion Enzymes can often help ease gas, bloating and indigestion