Fiber is the non-digestible component of plants that our bodies require for optimal digestion but according to the the National Library of Medicine, 95% of Americans don't get enough! I like to think of fiber as the thing that holds our food together.
Types of Fiber & Their Functions
The two main types of fiber are soluble and insoluble. Both types of fiber are essential to health.
Soluble fibers are commonly found in fruits, oats, and legumes. These fibers are water-soluble, meaning that they form a gel within the digestive tract. This thickening helps us feel full, slows the absorption of nutrients, and helps to reduce total blood cholesterol and blood sugar.
Insoluble fibers are commonly found in whole grain breads and vegetables. These fibers more physically help encourage movement through our bowels, preventing constipation.
Foods highest in fiber include all types of beans, artichoke, avocado, and berries. Half of an avocado includes the same amount of fiber in a baked potato with skin, 1 pear, or ½ cup garbanzo beans.
Fiber acts as both food for the gut as well as the support team. You would not have a healthy microbiome without fiber! Soluble fiber helps feed the beneficial bacteria, preventing an overgrowth of any pathogenic bacteria. Insoluble fiber, through physical movement, helps aid in the elimination of toxins. An accumulation of toxins would not only feel uncomfortable in the form of constipation, but cause damage by lingering in the digestive tract.
Since it can be easier said than done to consume enough fiber every day—a standard green salad only contains ~5g—supplementation is a wonderful way to boost intake. Common sources of fiber for supplementation include psyllium husk, inulin, chia seeds, and flax seeds.
This information is for educational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. Please consult a physician before treating any disorder.