Although we hear a lot about adding fiber to our diet and most of us probably realize it is good for us, we may not know as much as we should. After all, the bottom line (and we care about your ‘bottom’ line!) is the more you know the better choices you can make. So let’s dive in!
What is fiber and why do we need it?
Fiber is essentially an indigestible carbohydrate that can be found in plants or supplements. If it can’t be digested by the enzymes in our bodies, why do we need it? Fiber plays a critical role in aiding digestion, but that’s not all. Fiber is essential for many more aspects of our well-being.
There are extensive claims about increased fiber helping reduce inflammation, strokes, heart disease, diabetes, diseases of the digestive system, and more. While evidence is promising and increasing fiber is widely accepted as an overall positive thing we can do to help improve our health, we are not going to focus on these particular claims. I do want to stress the major roles of fiber in our bodies:
- It feeds beneficial bacteria
- It helps bulk up our stool, helping with easier elimination
- It helps absorb toxins in our bodies
Some people believe that they only need to increase fiber if they are constipated, and view it as an occasional thing to worry about. The truth is we all need fiber every single day to maintain good health. Most of us don’t realize that the proper amount of fiber can not only help with constipation but diarrhea as well.
Where to get it and how much?
Although the USDA recommends 25 grams of daily fiber for females and 38 grams for males, the standard American diet falls way short of providing this much fiber. I recommend to my patients to strive for 25-35 grams per day. Many health professionals will say this can be accomplished through healthy food choices alone. While this may be technically true, I find most people do not consistently consume enough dietary fiber.
Adding supplemental fiber to your dietary fiber can ensure you are consuming enough fiber on a consistent basis, and can increase the quality of the fiber, especially when using pharmaceutical grade products.
Soluble vs. insoluble fiber
There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. We need both to be healthy. Soluble fiber dissolves in water to form a gel-like substance. It helps slow fat absorption and helps us to feel fuller, and also helps regulate blood sugar levels. Think of what happens with oatmeal, it forms a creamy gel-like texture when combined with water.
Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water. It helps add bulk to the stool which can aid in reducing constipation. It also provides food for our probiotic good bacteria to feast on. Think of the fibrous parts of celery, apple skins, or seeds, they do not dissolve in water. When people refer to adding “roughage” to their diet, they are typically referring to insoluble fiber.
Click here for more information on which foods are good sources of fiber.
The moral of the story? Get enough fiber!
If you need recommendations for top-notch supplements, these are excellent choices and can be ordered directly through our online store!
FiberMax Powder– advanced fiber for sensitive colons. If you are tending towards loose stools this is good. (65% insoluble and 35% soluble)
Organic Triple FiberMax™ is a 100% organic blend of flax, acacia fiber and oat bran formulated to promote bowel regularity and help absorb toxins in the digestive tract and eliminate them from the body. Organic Triple FiberMax may be used for relief of occasional constipation and as a source of daily dietary fiber. (75% insoluble and 25% soluble)
Organic Fiber-Clear is a natural source of dietary fiber that helps provide the 25-35 grams of daily fiber that many experts recommend. Made with only 100% organic acacia, it dissolves in liquids and soft foods for a convenient fiber boost anytime. Plus, Organic Fiber-Clear is perfect for cooking and baking! Something to try for people who just dislike the grittiness of fiber. (100% soluble)
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