The promise of one magical nutrient with the power to help you burn fat, stay well, and eliminate with ease sounds almost too good to be true, but it’s not. It’s fiber – the favorite topic of health professionals and grandparents alike. But before you stop reading, we’re not just going to tell you to eat more broccoli and bran. Here we’re going to break down the truth about fiber, from how it actually does all these wondrous things, to which kind is best and how much you really need.
SOLUBLE VERSUS INSOLUBLE
You probably already know there are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Foods like avocados, squash, starchy tubers (sweet potatoes, potatoes, yams), carrots, turnips, beets, and plantains contain mostly soluble fiber. This kind of fiber attracts water and dissolves, forming a gel, which slows how quickly food enters your bloodstream.
Foods like wheat bran, whole grains, raw fruits and vegetables, seeds and nuts contain mostly insoluble fiber, which does not dissolve in water. Insoluble fibers pass through your digestive tract intact, acting like a broom, sweeping the sides of your colon, helping to push out waste and “keep you regular.”
WHICH KIND IS BEST?
Both are beneficial. Insoluble fiber can be very helpful relieving constipation in healthy individuals, but since it passes through the body undigested, it can cause problems for people already suffering with digestive issues like IBS, diarrhea, acid reflux, Crohn’s disease, or ulcerative colitis. Soluble fiber on the other hand, can help improve digestion. This is because certain kinds of soluble fiber such as inulin – the kind in SmartyPants Complete + Fiber – oligofructose, and FOS (fructo-oligosaccharide) act as prebiotics.
WHAT’S A “PRE”-BIOTIC?
Unlike probiotics, which are live forms of bacteria we eat, either in supplements or foods like yogurt, prebiotics are nutrients that feed the growth of good bacteria already living in our gut. This good bacteria then turns the soluble fiber into short-chain fatty acids like butyrate, which strengthen the colon and have been shown to reduce inflammation, increase insulin sensitivity, boost metabolism, and lower risk for heart disease and diabetes.
GUT HEALH = GOOD HEALTH
Whether you’re eating your bacteria or feeding it with soluble fiber, research over the past two decades has revealed that the health of our gut is one of the main factors that determine our overall health. Among other things, good gut bacteria promote normal gastrointestinal function and proper hormonal function, help our bodies detoxify, protect us from infections, regulate our metabolism and comprise more than 75% of our immune system. Pretty impressive for something that’s fermented in your colon…
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!
In addition to its bacteria-boosting power, soluble fiber slows digestion and how fast your blood sugar rises after a meal. This helps you feel fuller and store less fat, keeps your energy and mood stable, and reduces the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes.
HOW MUCH DO I NEED?
According to the Institute of Medicine, most people should get at least 25 grams per day. This doesn’t sound like much, but from 1999 to 2008 the average American’s intake was only about 15 to 16 grams. So for the days when your diet is less than perfect, SmartyPants Complete + Fiber provides extra soluble fiber to close the gap and keep your gut happy. If you’re a woman, you might a little more, around 25-35 grams a day, as fiber may be protective against breast cancer. If you find your daily intake is a little low and you want to supplement, we recommend a mixable fiber formula like FiberMend® by Thorne Research.
MORE DOES NOT MEAN BETTER
With all this talk about weight loss, bathroom breaks, and supercharged immunity you might want to start shoveling down fiber like there’s no tomorrow, but start slow. Since you’re feeding your gut bacteria more food than they’re used to, they might react differently at first, causing things like gas, bloating, or a little general discomfort. This is totally normal and why we recommend everyone try one gummy and work your way up to the recommended dose.
So there you have it, everything you need to know about fiber. Now the next time you encounter a fiber fanatic you can let them know you’re getting your daily dose, and it tastes a lot better than a bowl of bran.
Know anyone who might need some more fiber? Share this with them.
What’s been your experience with fiber? We’re all friends here. We’d love to hear in the comments below!
Posted on April 20, 2015