FIBER - What is it and Why is it so Important?
Although a large number of diets focus on protein, the key macro nutrient that most people are deficient in is fiber: leading to a number of health conditions from constipation to high cholesterol and even cancer.
The good news is that it’s cheap and easy to increase your fiber consumption on a plant-based diet.
What is fiber?
Fiber comes in two varieties, soluble and insoluble, and most plant-based foods contain a mixture of the two.
Soluble fiber turns to gel in the stomach and slows digestion, which helps lower cholesterol and blood glucose. Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, remains unchanged all the way to the colon, making waste heavier and softer so it can shimmy through the intestines more easily.
Why do we need it?
We need fiber because it’s the macronutrient our bodies don’t absorb. It keeps everything in our digestive system - all 6-10 meters of it - clean and healthy. Research regarding its potential health benefits has received considerable attention in the last several decades.
In simple terms though, fiber helps control your blood sugar levels by slowing down the release of sugar into the blood. It also controls your hunger hormone, Ghrelin.
Ghrelin is an appetite-increasing hormone which, ideally, is secreted ~4 hours after a meal to tell you to eat again and drops off as soon as you’ve eaten. Some foods are better at reducing your gherlin production levels - especially fiber. So you don’t feel hungry.
What if we don’t get enough fiber?
Most people are constipated. You can even poo once a day and the poo will be a week old!
This is bad enough in and of itself but it also results in a number of different symptoms and diseases that we are not aware of.
The way your body functions is great at deciding what toxins need eliminating such as:
Cortisol (stress hormone)
Oestrogen (sex hormone)
Other toxic substances - bile salts and cholesterol we accidentally ingest.
Your body sends all of this into your intestines and it is FIBER’S job to act as the train taking it out. When you don’t eat enough fiber, the poo doesn’t pass out and you get constipated. Meaning the poo remains stuck in your intestines. This is bad because your intestinal wall starts to reabsorb all of these toxins which leads to increased incidences of breast cancer (when women absorb too much estrogen), and increased colorectal cancer, and even acne - amongst other disgusting things.
How much do we need/how much is enough?
Humans are thought to have originated eating ~100g/day, however, the average adult American woman eats only 15 grams of fiber a day while the average adult man consumes just under 19 grams per day.
We should be consuming ~30g/day minimum.
Where do you get fiber from?
1 Mango 5g
1 Persimmon 6g
Split peas 16.3g/cup
Black beans 30g/cup
Sweet potato 4g in 1 potato
1 pomegrante 11g!!
Compared that to:
White pasta = 1.8g/100g
White rice = 0.4g/100g
How much fiber are you eating everyday? Do you have any favorite high fiber plant-based recipes? Share them with us on Instagram @plantb.tv or email firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to be featured on our website or in future episodes.