Why Fiber is Pretty Fantastic

Did you know that there is a nutrient in your food that can keep you feeling full, doesn’t have any calories, and also help you live longer?!

Most of us don’t get enough of it!

It’s fiber, and it’s definitely worth taking a look at your intake … including all those healthy snacks we’re talking about this month! Most of us don’t get enough.

Spoiler alert: I’ve got a delish fiber-rich recipe below that you definitely are going to want to try.

Before we get to that, though, let’s talk about how much fiber you need to get every day.

According to the Institute of Medicine, men under the age of 50 should aim for 38 grams of fiber and women under 50 need 25 grams. Meanwhile, if you’re over 50, men need 30 grams and women need 21 grams.

There are two basic kinds of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Your body can’t absorb either, so it passes through your body (which is why it makes a good food choice to keep your internal plumbing humming).

SOLUBLE FIBER dissolves in water and forms a gel-like material as it moves through your system. It can help lower your blood sugar levels and cholesterol. It’s found in oats, apples, chia and flax seeds, citrus fruits, carrots, peas, beans, barley, and in psyllium powder.

INSOLUBLE FIBER is especially good for people who tend not to have regular bowel movements because it helps move waste through your system. It’s found in nuts, legumes, some veggies (cauliflower, potatoes, green beans), and if you aren’t gluten sensitive you also can get it in whole wheat flour and wheat bran.

Both kinds of fiber are incredibly good for your health. Here are some things that a fiber-rich diet helps with:

  • Bowel movements. Fiber can help with both constipation and loose stools.

  • Digestive system. Fiber can help prevent hemorrhoids and diverticulitis. Studies show a fiber-rich diet also might lower your risk of colorectal cancer.

  • Lowers cholesterol. Soluble fiber lowers LDL “bad” cholesterol, and it shows promise for reducing blood pressure as well as inflammation in your body.

  • Blood sugar. Soluble fiber can help ease blood sugar spikes, and insoluble fiber appears to help reduce your risk of getting type 2 diabetes.

Longevity. Some studies show that an increased fiber intake is correlated with a reduced risk of dying from heart disease and all cancers.

  • Healthy weight. Fiber keeps you feeling full, which can help you from eating too much.

So, how do you know if you’re getting enough? It’s worth taking a couple days to track your fiber intake – you can do this by reading labels, but since many fiber-rich foods don’t actually come with food labels, it’s a lot easier to use a food tracking app or website (there are hundreds available, but two reliable ones are myfitnesspal.com or cronometer.com).

Note! When you start tracking your fiber, try not to suddenly load up on fiber-rich foods if you’re not used to eating them. There’s a chance your digestive system might rebel a little. You can save yourself some misery if you gradually increase your intake over a few weeks. :)

OK, now it’s time for a recipe! This makes a great healthy snack or breakfast.

I really like this because you can customize it any way you want. To boost the fiber (along with antioxidants and other micronutrients), you can add nuts and/or berries or other fruits. A dash of cinnamon will add even more blood-sugar-stabilizing effects!

This recipe will keep in the fridge for several days.

Make-Ahead Chia Pudding

(makes 2 servings)

  •  ¾ cup dairy-free milk (choose your fav)

  • ¼ cup chia seeds

  • ½ tbsp honey or maple syrup

  • ½ tsp pure vanilla extract

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine. Cover and place in the refrigerator at least 6 hours, until it becomes thick and pudding-like. Sometimes the chia seeds clump together at the bottom of the bowl, so you might need to stir the mixture to ensure they fully absorb the liquid.

Taste and adjust sweetness as needed. Place in a serving bowl and add the optional nuts/fruit.

I hope you enjoy it!

Kayla Torres