• Fiber is Fabulous!

    We pay a lot of attention to macronutrients: protein, carbs and fat. And for good reason – they play an important role in meeting any goal you may have, whether it be performance or aesthetic, and each have an essential role in our bodies and the way that they function. Having them all, and in the right balance, is an important part of maintaining optimal health. But what about micronutrients? Those are equally important when it comes to health and longevity. One specifically that is often overlooked is fiber.

    Most Americans do not eat enough fiber. Only 5 percent of people in the US meet the Institute of Medicine’s recommended daily target of 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men. Eating a fiber-rich diet is associated with a reduced risk of heart attacks, strokes, high cholesterol, obesity, type 2 diabetes, even some cancers, as well as improved gastrointestinal health. There are several reasons why: Fiber slows the absorption of glucose — which evens out our blood sugar levels — and also lowers cholesterol and inflammation. But the average American gets just 16 grams per day, half of what they should be eating.

    So what exactly is fiber? Technically, it is a group of plant-based carbohydrates. The big difference between fiber and other carbs, like starches and sugar, is that we can’t directly digest or absorb it. And some fiber types can only be broken down by the gut microbiome, the bacteria lining our intestines and colon. There are different types of fiber: soluble (dissolves in water), viscose (gel-forming), and fermentable (can be metabolized by bacteria). These different types interact with our gastrointestinal tract in different ways.

    This infographic from the National Fiber Council shows at a high level how the different types of fiber work and move through our bodies:

    So, how can we get more fiber? The best way is to focus on incorporating high-fiber foods into your diet every day. Some foods high in fiber include chia seeds, beans/legumes, fruit (especially things like apples, raspberries and pears), avocado, peas, artichoke, oats, popcorn, etc.


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    Should you take a fiber supplement? It is always preferable to get your fiber (and other micronutrients) through whole foods since it ensures that you’re eating plenty of nutrient rich foods. Obviously supplements don’t provide the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that fiber-rich foods do. But if you find yourself struggling to hit the 25-38g per day, a supplement might be a good addition to contribute to your daily intake. Supplements are meant to compliment a well rounded diet, not be the core of it.