No, I’m not going to talk about protein or fat.
Though those two nutrients are critical for good health, they get talked about all the time in the health and wellness circles. The one I want to talk about is not quite as “popular” as the other two, but just as important.
What nutrient is it?
Dietary fiber is essential for optimal health.
Because I want you to live optimally and abundantly, I want you understand what it is, why it is important, and how to incorporate it into your diet.
What is dietary fiber?
Fiber is the indigestible portion of food derived from plants. It has two main components, soluble fiber, which helps you feel full, and insoluble fiber, which help you get rid of toxins in your body.
Fiber is found in vegetables, fruits, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
Why is it important?
There are SO many wonderful reason eating fiber is good for your health. Here are some of my favorite:
1. It can help you lose weight
Fiber fills you up helping you not overeat at a meal. It also has no calories since fiber is the indigestible part of the carbohydrate. It passes through the body and exits so you don’t have to count it as part of your overall calories.
2. It can lower your cholesterol
Fiber can reduce the absorption of the bad cholesterol into your bloodstream.
3. It stabilizes your blood sugar
This is one of my hallmark nutrition principles! If you can stabilize your blood sugar, you can increase your daily energy levels, control sugar cravings, eat appropriate portions, and improve you overall mood. Fiber helps slow your body’s breakdown of carbohydrates and the absorption of sugar, therefore helping maintain your body’s normal blood sugar level.
4. It remove toxins from your body, naturally
Soluble fiber acts like a sponge and removes toxins from your body. Insoluble fiber acts like a brush cleaning the intestines and colon.
5. It improves bacteria in your gut
Fiber feeds billions of bacteria in the guts which keeps our intestines and immune system healthy and happy.
6. It reduces your risk of certain cancers
The main reason fiber can help protect us against cancers is that it helps us maintain a healthy weight. Research also shows it can reduce the risk of colon cancer as it helps remove cancer-causing compounds from the colon.
7. It helps you be more regular (yes, exactly what you are thinking, with your bowel movements).
Fiber helps keep waste moving through the intestines and bulks up the stool (not my favorite subject to talk about, but it is so important for your health!) preventing constipation.
How can I incorporate it into my diet?
You may look at the list of foods that contain fiber and think you are getting enough fiber. Yet, studies show that most adults in the U.S get only 9 to 11 grams of fiber per day. That is HALF of what is needed in a day. A woman needs between 25 - 35 grams per day and a man needs at least 38 grams per day.
Honestly, it is hard to get those numbers in each day if you are not intentional with your food choices. To help you, I have created a sample meal plan where you would get well over 38 grams of fiber in one day. Hopefully this gives you a few ideas on how to incorporate more fiber into your diet!
Sample Meal Plan
Protein smoothie - 1 cup unsweetened almond milk, 1 - 2 scoops of protein powder (depending on what you use, I like Vital Proteins collagen), 1 tablespoon chia seeds, 1/2 cup raspberries (10 g fiber)
A Quest bar (14 g fiber)
2 cups green salad (made with spinach, mixed green, or arugula) topped with carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, green onions, and 3 ounces of grilled chicken then drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon (5 grams fiber)
2 GG crackers topped 1 tablespoon almond butter and a light spread of strawberry jam (9 g fiber)
1 serving of my French Lentil Salad (around 10 g fiber)
I’ll be sharing more ideas and my favorite high fiber products to help you eat more fiber in your daily life in the coming months. Follow me on instagram at virginia_reddick and sign up for my newsletter to stay in the know!