We all have heard how we need fiber in our diet, that is a given. But one question I get asked a lot is, “What foods can I eat that will give me an adequate amount of daily fiber?”
First, let’s go back to the basics...
Dietary fiber is basically the undigested carbohydrates that are in a large variety of plant carbohydrates. With a high fiber diet we can help lower our cholesterol, control blood sugar and prevent constipation. In a nutshell, eating more fiber allows us to have a healthy colon and regular bowel movements.
How much fiber should you be consuming?
The Institute of Medicine’s minimum recommended fiber intake is about 30 grams per day. However, did you know that most Americans consume about 15 grams of fiber per day, yikes! Yep, that’s half the recommended minimum requirement.
Where are some areas that I can get fiber naturally?
Good sources of fiber include beans, vegetables, whole grains and fruits. There are two different types of fiber that we need to consume: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber is found in foods such as beans, peas, oat bran, fruits and vegetables. Insoluble fiber is in whole grains, wheat bran, fruit skins and peels, nuts, seeds, vegetables and beans.
We know that not all foods are created equal. Certain foods allow us to more easily reach this, for some, “hefty” fiber goal. But truly, the goal is not as hard to achieve as one might think.
For those who lack fiber greatly, a few words of caution is to start adding fiber in slowly over a 2 to 3 week timeframe. This will help your gastrointestinal (GI) tract better adapt to the added bulk without excess gas and bloating. In addition, to help with digestion, properly staying hydrated throughout the day with about half your body weight in ounces in water, is a good rule of thumb to abide by.
So, what would a typical day look like that is fiber rich?
Below is an example of one of my client’s intake of breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner. With this one-day food journal, keep in mind, that as individuals we all don’t need to be consuming the same foods. We each have different genetic make-up, stresses, toxins and lifestyle choices that have an impact on our body’s ability to break down food. Listening to your body for possible signs and symptoms (S&S) it might be giving you is important. Some of these S&S could be bloating, excess gas or borborygmi (rumbling in the GI tract), to name a few. By listening it allows us to piece together “what’s going on in there,” thus improving your health.
It’s not only the type of foods you are eating that is important, but also what your body is able to do with the food and nutrients you eat.
Here is an example of a one-day food journal from a client of mine.
Breakfast: Smoothie ~ 15 g of fiber
Lunch: Salad ~ 15 g of fiber
Snack: Garlic hummus w/ dipped broccoli & side of almonds ~ 9 g of fiber
Dinner: Salmon, sweet potato, and quinoa ~ 8 g of fiber
Total fiber for the day ~ 47 grams
This one-day food journal is from a wife and a mother of three who is also working full-time. She easily attained the Institute of Medicine’s minimum daily fiber requirement, and you can too. It's totally doable!
So, where do you stack up? When consuming whole foods only, how much fiber are you getting in daily?
I'd love to hear your thoughts and creative food ideas below.
PS - Wanting new recipe ideas? Follow me on Pinterest for some yummy and creative recipe ideas.
To really understand what inflammation is let’s first start with where the major concepts of inflammation began, back in the Roman days thousands of years ago. The Romans described inflammation as 4 symptoms:
- Calor (heat)
- Rubor (redness)
- Tumor (swelling)
- Dolor (pain)
These symptoms occur because of increased blood supply to the infected area.
Now when we talk about inflammation, we aren’t just talking about the body’s response to trauma – let’s say, when we first sprain our ankle. Yes, this type of inflammation (acute inflammation) occurs allowing an increased blood supply to the infected area. However, this is not the only cause of inflammation.
Hmmm….so inflammation is bad, right?
Well, yes and no. The inflammatory process is designed to defend and repair the body against pathogens and trauma (a process with a purpose!). The immune system’s inflammatory response uses a complex exchange between different branches of the immune system. Certain signals are conducted that transfer information to sensors, which perceive foreign substances, danger or damage, into a sequence of biochemical cascades. These branches are essential to our survival, as without them we are asking for a death sentence. Therefore, having a balanced inflammatory process is needed to ensure our health and survival.
Aside from the above-mentioned acute inflammation, we also have chronic inflammation. Foreign invaders (such as bacteria, viruses and toxins) are just a few of the harmful causes of chronic inflammation. You might not be able to see or feel the inflammation, like you would a sprained ankle, but overtime these causes can lead to a whole list of health issues, including:
- Constipation and/or diarrhea
- Body aches and pains
- Skin outbreaks
- Accelerated aging
- Resistance to weight gain and weight loss
- Frequent infections
These above are just a few of the signs and symptoms the body portrays, informing us of health issues that must be addressed. When the dysfunction occurs due to a host of systemic imbalances, inflammation becomes the root cause of all diseases. Diseases such as:
- Diabetes mellitus
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Liver disease
- Cardiovascular disease
- Parkinson’s disease
So, whether the immune response is initiated by the release of debris from injured cells, AGEs (advanced glycation end products) or oxidized LDL, or the exposure to environmental or antigens (pesticides, PBCs, etc), a chain of specific pathways are initiated, leading to the increased production of pro-inflammatory cytokines. By getting rid of the inflammation you are able to improve your overall health.
You might be asking, “so how do I turn off the heat, redness, swelling and pain?“
Simply put, through the foods we eat!
Certain foods are able to “put out the fire” while other foods “fuel the fire.” Pro-inflammatory foods cause the body to continue to fuel the inflammation keeping us in, or working towards, a chronic disease state. While other foods are anti-inflammatory, helping to suppress the entire inflammatory response.
A big pro-inflammatory substance that most people consume way too much of on a daily basis is SUGAR!
Sugar is, of course, in candies, donuts and desserts, but they are also hidden in every day foods. Most people don’t even know they are eating sugar. Many foods that some might think are “healthy” are actually pro-inflammatory.
- Fruit yogurt
- Spaghetti sauce
- Soda, vitamin water and sports drinks
- Granola cereal and granola bars
- Dried fruit
- Juices, such as V-8 juice and apple juice
- Condiments, such as ketchup and thousand island dressing
To minimize inflammation, it is wise to limit the amount of sugar intake. That means for women it is less than 24 grams per day and for men less than 36 grams per day. The task might feel daunting at first, but in looking at food labels and seeing how much sugar and inflammation your body is truly taking on will definitely be worth it.
An important thing to remember is that the structural and functional cellular level of inflammation is closely interrelated. Inflammation is not an isolated occurrence, but instead is greatly intertwined with the overall health of your body.
We only get one body, which currently works so hard to perform at it’s best every day for you. Let’s allow it to have an impeccable balance with limited pro-inflammatory affects, enabling you to live a healthy, active life.
Hello, my name is Stacy Peterson, licensed Functional Nutritionist and Holistic Health, Wellness and Strength & Conditioning Coach with a MS in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine practicing whole-foods nutrition and physical training to individuals around the globe.
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