What is Fiber, Anyway?

Now that you have a basic understanding of what carbohydrates are from our last post, we can start talking about a couple more topics, one being fiber! Fiber is incredibly important for our overall health, it provides our digestive systems with the volume and bulk to have regular bowel movements (which is vital to our health), keeps us fuller longer, and contributes to creating prebiotics for a healthy gut ecosystem.

Fiber 101

There are two main groups of fiber, soluble and insoluble. The amount of total fiber in your diet per day varies from person to person, but a good baseline is aiming for a minimum of 10g per 1000 calories you consume (i.e. if you eat 2000 calories, 20g fiber per day minimum). Here’s the breakdown of these two fibers, note many whole food sources already naturally contain both of these fibers, no need for harsh fiber supplements!

Insoluble: Adds bulk and volume to the stool allowing your body to pass it more quickly through the stomach and intestines. Good examples of this fiber are whole grains and vegetables.

Soluble: Attracts water and turns into a gel in your digestive system. Think of it as a gentle broom sweeping through. Good examples of this fiber are chia seeds or flax seed.

Carbohydrates in food range from whole food sources to processed food sources. The majority of your carbohydrate sources in an optimal and healthy diet should be coming from whole foods more than processed foods. Here are a couple of examples of carbohydrates from major “food groups”:

  • – Fruits: apples, bananas, pears, grapes, oranges, figs, dried fruits, etc.
  • – Starchy vegetables: squash, peas, corn, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, etc.
  • – Beans: chickpeas, navy beans, lentils, pinto, etc.
  • – Dairy items: yogurts, milk, ice cream, etc. consume organic if possible
  • – Whole grains: whole wheat, barely, millet, quinoa, oatmeal, faro, spelt, amaranth, etc.
  • – Processed foods: cold cereals, breads, tortillas, crackers, chips, cakes, cookies, pastries, sodas, sweet tea, candy, etc.
  • – Sweeteners: honey, maple syrup, refined sugar, molasses, coconut sugar, etc.

Fiber 101

Whole foods are those in the following categories: fruits, vegetables, beans, starchy vegetables, whole grains, dairy, and natural sweeteners (i.e. honey, stevia, maple syrup, molasses, etc.). Out of all of these whole food sources one thing should be remembered, just because you’re consuming a whole food source of simple sugar, such as honey or even fruit, doesn’t mean quantity doesn’t matter, it does! Overeating any type of carbohydrate can give you a surplus of sugar, which may be stored as fat, the key word is overeating/surplus.

I challenge each and everyone of you to start consuming more whole food sources of carbohydrates to not only fuel your body with the best energy possible, but to aid in your digestion.

Be well!

McKel


McKel Hill, MS, RD, LDN is an internationally known Registered Dietitian, wellness nutritionist and the creator of Nutrition Stripped, a guide to living whole and well. Visit her blog for nourishing recipes, advice on living the whole lifestyle, and for nutrition expertise and advice. She hosts supper clubs in Nashville seasonally, hosts workshops, retreats and cooking videos. The Nutrition Stripped cookbook will be published early 2016.

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