Getting enough fiber in your diet is super important for your health, but so many women don’t get the right amount. Today, we’re laying down the facts of fiber: what it is, and why you should include it in your diet.
First, what exactly is fiber?
Sometimes called “roughage” or “bulk,” fiber is a kind of carbohydrate that our bodies cannot digest. While most carbohydrates are broken down into sugar molecules as they pass through our digestive system, fiber moves through it relatively unchanged. Now, you might be wondering, why would we eat something that our bodies can’t digest? It is actually this property of fiber that makes it so important for our bodies.
Benefits of Fiber:
1. Reduces constipation
There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Both work to reduce constipation and make bowel movements more regular. Soluble fiber dissolves into a gel-like substance in your digestive tract which makes it easier for your stools to move smoothly through your system. Insoluble fiber does not dissolve and works to push everything along, helping to keep your system moving regularly.
2. Improves cardiovascular health
Studies show that eating more fiber can help you lower your cholesterol. When soluble fiber dissolves, it forms a gel that catches fats and cholesterol molecules in the small intestine, making sure they are excreted instead of making their way into your bloodstream.
3. Helps you manage your weight
Eating a diet high in fiber can help you feel more full for longer after eating. An NIH study found that fiber intake actually promotes weight loss because your meals do a better job of satisfying your hunger.
4. Helps control blood sugar
Fiber, and soluble fiber in particular, can help slow the absorption of glucose molecules into your bloodstream, thus protecting you from sharp fluctuations in your blood sugar levels. An NIH metaanalysis found that high fiber diets may even lessen your risk for Type 2 diabetes.
5. Helps you live longer
Upping your fiber intake can help bolster your body against some of the leading causes of death in America. One NIH meta-analysis found that high-fiber diets can reduce your chances of dying from cardiovascular disease or cancer. Another NIH study found that increasing your fiber intake was associated with a decreased risk of dying from any cause -- by up to 23% for those with the highest fiber intake. While fiber can’t make you live forever, it could play an important role in keeping your body functioning healthily for longer.
Adding Fiber to Your Diet
Needless to say, adding fiber to your diet can improve your health in important ways. However, you also have to be careful not to go too overboard. Women under 50 need to get about 25 grams of fiber per day from their diets. Women over 50 need 21 grams. Unfortunately, the average American only gets about 10-15 grams from their diet alone. Here are our tips for getting more fiber into your diet:
Pick high fiber foods
Next time you go to the grocery store, bring along your fiber-rich shopping list:
- Beans and Chickpeas
- Fruits and Veggies
- Whole grains
- Nuts and Seeds
For prepackaged products, check the label! When buying other carbohydrates like pasta or cereal, you want to look for a 1:5 ratio on the label. That is, 1 gram of fiber for every 5 grams of carbohydrates. Keep in mind that this is a goal, not necessarily a standard, so just try to buy the products that get as close to it as possible.
Make sure to check your ingredients list too. If “whole” is not in the first ingredient, it’s probably not doing that much for you in terms of upping your fiber intake.
The great thing about high fiber foods is that they keep you full for longer, so they are a great option for a snack. And, they’re delicious! Next time you’re feeling peckish, try broccoli or carrots with hummus. You can also add nuts and seeds to your salads and beans and veggies to your soup to give them a fiber-rich upgrade. Making bean and veggie chili is another great way to get your fiber!
Take a prebiotic
Prebiotics are a type of undigestible plant fiber that feeds the probiotics and the good bacteria in your large intestine. They are thought to selectively target the bacteria associated with health, according to NIH. Taking a prebiotic ensures that your gut is healthy and working properly, and a healthy gut helps you manage stress and balance your mood, take care of your vaginal health, make your skin radiant, and many other benefits. We recommend taking both a pre and probiotic, and at Binto, we combine both into one, easy to take synbiotic.
Take it slow
If you’re looking to add more fiber to your diet, make sure you increase your intake gradually so your body has time to adjust. You also want to make sure you are increasing your water intake along with the fiber so the roughage in your digestive system doesn’t get too bulky. If you suffer from constipation, make sure to check with your doctor before adding a lot of fiber to your diet.
As always, we are here to help if you have any questions, concerns, or just want to chat! You can reach us at [email protected], or through the chat portal on our website. You can also always check out our blog homepage for trending articles on topics from periods to menopause.