Fiber. It Makes You Go Poop

Not to go TMI on you, but I like to poop. In my mind it means I’ve lost weight (I know, sick right?) Don’t you hate that constipated feeling and being bloated? I’m one of those people who are on a daily “schedule” and it’s been that way for a good while. I learned early on that the more fiber I got… the more regular I was….the better I felt and the more weight I’d lose. FIBER = GOOD! YAY FIBER!!!

There is a difference in getting enough fiber and getting fiber from the wrong sources. To be clear, pretty much all fiber is good; however, its important to make the right decision when picking where you get your fiber.

So What Is Fiber?

Unbeknownst to most people there are actually two kinds of fiber. The Food and Nutrition Board break “Dietary fiber” down into these categories.

  • Insoluble fiber. This type of fiber promotes the movement of material through your digestive system and increases stool bulk, so it can be of benefit to those who struggle with constipation or irregular stools. Whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts and many vegetables are good sources of insoluble fiber.
  • Soluble fiber. This type of fiber dissolves in water to form a gel-like material. It can help lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels. Soluble fiber is found in oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, barley and psyllium. [2]

The Benefits

Fiber not only can aid in weight loss, it is also beneficial for digestive health, weight control, building muscle, enhancing your immune system, bone health and a host of other benefits. It’s even being linked as a deterrent to cancer.

For 15 years the European Prospective Investigation of Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) has examined the dietary habits of more than 400,000 people in nine European countries. EPIC researchers released preliminary results from their long-term cohort study at a nutrition conference last year in Lyons, France.

Among other findings, the researchers determined that fiber is particularly important in reducing the risk of colorectal cancer, the second-leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States. “We placed 400,000 people on the study into five sets according to their consumption of fiber,” explains Professor Sheila Bingham of the Dunn Human Nutrition Unit at Cambridge University. “The group eating the most fiber reduced their risk of colorectal cancer by as much as 40 percent.” [4]

If you aren’t getting enough fiber in your diet, you might want to re-think that one.

How Much Fiber Should I Get?

Well that depends, women under 50 should consume 25 grams a day, and those over 50 should get about 21 grams . Men under 50 should consume 38 grams, and those over 50 require 30 grams a day. [1]

The problem is most people (less than half), especially crash dieters aren’t getting nearly enough. I always say, “If you aren’t aren’t losing.” I don’t really say that but it makes sense.

Where Should I Get My Fiber?

Most people typically equate fiber with the phrase “Whole wheat or whole grain.” While whole wheat breads can contain lots of fiber, they are typically full of carbs which can have the opposite effect dieters are seeking. Too many carbs can turn into sugar and eventually fat. I don’t believe in the “No-Carb” diet but I do believe in carbs with moderation and that you should monitor what you are putting in your body.

Surprisingly there is a standard of Carbs to Fiber intake.

Most doctors and nutritionist will tell you 3/4 of your carbohydrate intake (30 percent) should be in fiber. [3]

Arnold Bread is one of most popular makers of “Whole Wheat Bread” on the market. Lets take a look at their “100% Whole Wheat Bread”. (Sounds perfect, right?! Not so fast!)

  • 16 grams of Carbs- 3 grams of Fiber = 16% (3 divided by 16)

The Thomas Whole Wheat Bagel is even worse:

  • 49 grams of carbs- 7 grams of fiber = 14.2 %

Between these two you’ve had 100% of your daily fiber (for males) and well over 100 for women but only 15% came from Fiber. NOT GOOD!

Instead try Carb Balance Whole Wheat Tortillas (Mission). 32 carbs to 21 grams fiber (67%!!)  Or Arnold Sandwich Thins 21 carbs 7 grams fiber (23%)

I would suggest getting your fiber from carbs only once or twice a day and try to get them as early as possible. The rest should come from natural sources like broccoli, green peppers, spinach, and celery.

Contrary to popular opinion, replacing wheat products and whole grain foods with fiber-rich vegetables like broccoli, green peppers, spinach, and celery, increase your intake of fiber. In other words, when wheat and other grains are replaced with vegetables, fiber intake goes up-enormously. When matched by weight, fiber intake can actually increase six-fold, even more if refined foods are replaced by vegetables.

In other words, reducing or eliminating “fiber-rich” grains and replacing their calories with fiber-rich vegetables dramatically increases fiber content of your diet. [5]

There are some great supplement options out there for those who either struggle with fiber intake or don’t have the time to eat a bowl of broccoli at 3 o’clock.

Metamucil, Benefiber, and FiberCon are some of the better known options on the market. I personally used Metamucil (5 grams per serving) for years. That was until I came across an Arbonne product called Figure 8 (12 grams per serving). What I liked about Figure 8 was not only did it have more fiber per serving but it didn’t leave me feeling gassy (yes this is a side effect of fiber). Choosing which supplement is best for you can be tricky and it’s important to know that supplements shouldn’t replace the better, natural options.

Regardless of how you get Fiber, JUST GET IT! It’s very important to your health. I can’t stress this point enough.

So, what have we learned?

  • Fiber is good! Not enough is bad :(
  • Getting your fiber from carbs is good but more beneficial if gotten from veggies. (Watch that ratio!)
  • Fiber is ESSENTIAL to good health!
  • Supplements are a good option but should be used with caution.
  • Fiber is good! Not enough is BAD! BAD! BAD!


Lyell [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]

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