Episode 118 – Fiber, the ‘New’ Sexy Food Group

Written by Jonathan

Everyone wants to be one of the cool kids, a sexy protein that gets all of the attention, an energetic carbohydrate that bounces of the walls and the once shunned kid fat is finally coming into his own, now that he’s better understood. But what about fiber?  Fiber is that nerd at the high school party no one pays attention to, but ends up making millions of dollars after they graduate. So you should listen to him, when fiber grows up you want him on your side, because at the end of the day he’s writing some pretty big cheques.

Fiber is technically a carbohydrate, fitexcept it’s actually not. At the end of the day carbohydrates get broken down into sugar for your body to use. Fibre doesn’t get broken down the same way, it stays undigested and just passes through your digestive tract, this means your body doesn’t turn it into glucose. Which means it doesn’t contribute to increased blood sugar or a higher caloric intake the label on a high fiber food might suggest. Beans and legumes are the perfect examples of this, they have a high carbohydrate count, except half of those carbohydrates come from fiber.  

There are two types of fiber, soluble fiber which dissolves in water and insoluble fiber which doesn’t. Soluble fibers are fermented in the colon and may be the culprit behind giving you that ‘gassy’ or bloated feeling. Insoluble fibre provides ‘bulking’ in the colon and helps keep everything moving swiftly, and who said fiber wasn’t sexy. Both can have a prebiotic effect this means they can help change your microbiome for the better and there is a lot of research coming out about the importance of a healthy microbiome in your digestive tract.

Depending on which regulating body you listen to you’re supposed to consume between 20 and 35g of fiber a day, but the average American consumes only 12 to 18 grams. Which is too bad because fiber can do some really amazing things: Foods that are high in fiber tend to have a really low caloric density, which means you can eat a high volume of food, but not eat very many calories, it can also make your body digest all your food more slowly, meaning you will stay feeling full for longer and your blood sugar shouldn’t go as high, the benefits don’t stop there it also decreases your LDL which is your bad cholesterol and your total body cholesterol.

I don’t know how you feel about all those benefits, but I think that’s a quadruple win.

The bottom line is that fiber is important and you’re probably not getting enough, so what can you do to increase your fiber intake? The first step would be to find foods that are really high in fiber, that you want to eat. As far as I can tell, beans and legumes seem to be the ‘front runner’s’ here, coming in between 60 and 100% of your daily recommended intake in a half cup serving, but most vegetables and fruit especially dark leafy greens are high, as well.  Last but not least, whole grains are also very high in fiber, I don’t mean whole grain bread I mean the actual grain itself, steel cut oats, kamut flakes and spelt are some examples and are really easy to make, you just boil them in water.  If you go online and type in high fiber foods you will be able to easily see what foods are there and which ones you will likely be able to fit into your everyday diet.

As a side note here, about a month ago I personally became very conscious of the amount of fiber I was eating in my diet, I felt like it was lower than it should be so I started cooking lentils, pinto, black and red kidney beans and eating them as a soup, putting them on salads or as the carbohydrate part of a full meal and I’ve noticed I’ve been feeling more full for longer periods of time and I have definitely been craving less refined carbohydrates, like crackers, bread and my biggest nemesis of all chocolate desserts.  So without changing anything else you might want to consider adding high fiber foods to foods you’re already eating and not changing anything else to just see what happens, it’s an experiment I ran and now I’m going to continue running it because I notice such a big difference.        



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