We don’t always hear what is good for us. Most times it’s because money can’t be made trying to market and sell. Whenever someone finds out I’m vegan usually I’m asked where I get my protein. My news feed on my phone constantly has articles on protein: what kind of protein should you be taking, are you getting enough protein, what protein should you eat based on your goal, is plant based protein adequate. Stuff like that. But I have yet to see an article on the dangers to our health when we consume too much protein. But that doesn’t sell and make money. Let’s take fiber as an example. How do you make it look appealing to sell? It doesn’t sizzle, it doesn’t make your mouth water, it doesn’t have deep dark attractive colours.
I’ve never been asked and I’ve never heard anyone be asked where do you get your fiber? I’ve never heard people ask when someone discusses the new diet they are on, ‘are you getting enough fiber?’. Have never seen any articles come to my news feed, have never heard anyone talk about it when discussing what they are doing to eat well. Always protein, fats, and carbs but usually it’s the demonization of carbs.
All fiber comes from plants. All. It is what gives plants their structure. It creates the shape of the plant, and it makes up the bulk of the seeds. Our body cannot digest fiber but it benefits our body in so many ways and plays an essential role in good health.
There are two types of fiber,soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber will dissolve in water where as insoluble will not. Soluble fiber slows down digestion, giving us the satiated feeling after eating and insoluble is what promotes regular bowel movements. Pretty important things. We usually associate a high protein or fat meal to give us the feeling of fullness, or that satiated feeling. But fiber can do that too and it benefits our health greatly to get that feeling from fiber instead of protein or fat. The second benefit of fiber, the pooping more one will be touch on throughout this article.
Why is fiber good for us? I’ve explained one benefit already, the satiated feeling. If we feel full after eating we are less to eat more thus consuming less calories and keeping our weight in check. But let’s talk about what other benefits there are.
Have you ever juice fasted or know someone who has? Did you end up having acne breakouts? It’s common for people who juice fast, or increase their intake of juice and thus eat less food and less fiber to experience acne break out. And it has nothing to do with the skin detoxing chemicals. It’s a sign of hormone imbalance. All toxins are expelled from our body via urine and feces, not the skin through sweat. All this is done through the liver. Toxins, extra hormones are sent to the liver and then picked up by the small intestine via fiber. If there isn’t enough fiber because we are not eating enough then the toxins, and hormones stay in our system, waiting for that fiber train to come by. When someone is juice fasting there isn’t enough fiber in their body to wash away the excess hormones and thus end up having a hormone imbalance which ends up in an acne breakout.
Fiber is also used by the liver to detoxify a bunch of other things: alcohol, medications, food additives, sweeteners, chemicals, etc. Again, without enough fiber these toxins stay in your body. Yikes!
So if you think about what fiber does for us in removing toxins, wouldn’t you want to remove those toxins as soon as possible? If you aren’t eating enough fiber those toxins remain in your body, sometimes for days depending on the person. That could be why not eating enough fiber is linked to an increase in diseases such as coronary disease, can lead to cancer, diabetes, and skin health issues.
According to the Institute of Medicine, the average female needs 25 grams of fiber a day, and the average male needs 38 grams per day. If you fall into the 97% of americans not getting enough fiber than your intake is probably no higher than 15 grams.
The easiest way to consume more fiber is to follow a whole foods plant based diet. As mentioned earlier, all fiber comes from plants. There is zero fiber in animal products. You wont have to spend time trying to understand if you are consuming enough fiber by measuring and counting grams, and you wont have to worry about all the bad things you would be consuming if eating animal products. If you think about it, fiber helps to get rid of extra hormones. Consuming animal products, especially dairy products introduces extra hormones into the body (cow milk is a product whose purpose is to provide the nutrients, and hormones to a new born calf to get that new born calf to about 500lbs in a year) and now your body has to remove those extra hormones. If you aren’t eating enough fiber to get rid of those hormones you could be experiencing some of these issues mentioned previously.
Whole grain foods, potatoes with the skin on, raw berries (try not to pulverize them in the smoothy machine), nuts, seeds, and anything else that is plant based. The more variety the better.
Cut down on processed foods. This is why I don’t say to follow a vegan diet. Veganism is more than what you eat, it’s main focus on not harming animals. So you could eat nothing but potato chips and be vegan. Whole foods plant based diet is the best way to go.
WARNING: If you are someone who has not been getting enough fiber, maybe none to 10, 15 or so grams and you make this switch I warn you now you will probably experience some bloating. Why? Because your gut does not have the proper bacteria because of not eating the proper foods. When you introduce this increase of fiber the gut bacteria you do have starts to ferment it and that fermentation produces a large amount of gas thus the bloating. Give it time, this will stop as new, healthier bacteria form. Think of it as a good thing. Your body is shifting away from harmful bacteria to protective bacteria. Ease into it. Increase the amount of fiber slowly if you feel you need to. Think of it as never running to all of a sudden having to run 5 miles.
Take ownership of your health. What issues are you dealing with? Can those problems be addressed by a change to your diet, a change for the better? It would be like continuing to put low grade gas into my car and then taking the car to the mechanic to address the engine damage that has been done. Change the fuel and no more engine issues. Food is fuel and the higher quality fuel you eat the better your body runs.
Yours in health,