There’s no way around it: talking about fiber isn’t sexy. But, if you want to live a long and healthy life, fiber needs to be an integral component of your nutrition. In fact, I’d go out on a limb to say no matter how much fiber you THINK you’re eating, you probably need to up your fiber game. Fiber is a crucial component to a healthy and fit lifestyle. And the good news is you don’t need to eat Colon Blow to get it (RIP Phil Hartman). In today’s Bite Sized tip, we’re going to give the quick 101 on fiber – what it is, what it does, and the best sources to get it.
What is Dietary Fiber?
Fiber is the umbrella term for a type of carbohydrate the body is unable to digest. Specifically, it is the indigestible part of plant-based foods that pass through the digestive tract intact, thus not being broken down and absorbed. It provides bulk to our diet, and (what it’s most famous for) aids in getting the bowels moving and maintaining a healthy digestion.
There are three types of Fiber found in our diets: soluble, insoluble, and resistant starch.
Like the name suggests, this type of fiber dissolves in water and forms into a gel-like substance that regulates blood sugar levels and can help lower cholesterol. It’s most abundantly found in foods like oats, legumes, fruits, and vegetables.
On the other end of the spectrum, this type does not dissolve when eaten. When I talked earlier about fiber adding bulk to the diet and regulating digestion, I was primarily referring to insoluble fiber.. These are found in grains, nuts, seeds, and most vegetables.
Resistant Starch comes from foods like green bananas, cooked and cooled potatoes, and legumes. Resistant starch provides several health benefits, from managing insulin,helping to regulate appetite/satiety, and providing a good dose of prebiotics. While we can not break down these starches, there is growing evidence that our gut microbiome is able to put it to good use (DeMartino & Cockburn, 2020) (Zaman & Sarbini, 2015).
For a long time, fiber was an unsung hero in our health journey. We’ve already discussed multiple times its importance in eliminating waste and maintaining healthy digestive processes. But the other side of the coin is that, by keeping these processes going, fiber helps to create an environment that is readily available to absorb nutrients – critical if you care about your long term health (hint: you do).
From a weight management perspective, fiber is more filling, helping us to feel full faster and consume less. It can also help to slow down the digestive process, helping to prevent correlation does not equate to causation, eating more fiber (in general) can be correlated to healthier people. A fiber rich diet decreases risk of type 2 diabetes by regulating insulin; obesity, certain types of cancer (especially colon cancer), regulates blood sugar, lowers cholesterol, and lowers the risk of heart disease.
Increasing your Fiber Intake
Eat Whole Foods
Stay away from processed foods. Instead, opt for fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains. If you are currently low in fiber, I recommend you increase gradually, otherwise nature’s call might come rather suddenly and without warning
Drink plenty of water and fluids throughout the day. Water helps move the fiber through the digestive tract smoothly.
Variety is the spice of life
Mix your fiber sources. Be sure to include soluble, insoluble, and resistant starches. Each type affects your health differently. Remember that the healthiest people on the planet eat the widest variety of foods.
Dietary fiber has many health and fitness benefits. Whether you are looking to manage weight or continue to be a savage late in life. Fiber is an important piece to lowering chronic disease risk. If you need help finding strategies to crush your performance or get the body you want, check out www.powerathletehq.com/nutrition to hire a coach or pick up a protocol today.
DeMartino, P., & Cockburn, D. W. (2020). Resistant starch: Impact on the gut microbiome and health. Current Opinion in Biotechnology, 61, 66–71. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.copbio.2019.10.008
Zaman, S. A., & Sarbini, S. R. (2015). The potential of resistant starch as a prebiotic. Critical Reviews in Biotechnology, 1–7. https://doi.org/10.3109/07388551.2014.993590
Coaching: Power Athlete Nutrition Coaching
Education: Power Athlete Academy
Rob has been in the fitness/strength and conditioning industry for 21+ years. For the last 12 years, he has owned and operated CrossFit West Houston. Through CrossFit, Rob found Power Athlete the methodology course and earning his Block One. Nutrition is a passion which lead him to currently pursuing a Masters program in Nutrition at Lamar University and Power Athlete Nutrition coach.
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