You would have to be living under a rock if you haven’t heard of the importance of fiber in your daily diet. But, like a lot of the other things that are good for you – that doesn’t always make it something you actually enjoy. And how much is too little or too much?
We’re going to flush out all the important details for you, plus give you some simple tips for boosting your fiber intake.
Fiber quite simply stated is a carbohydrate that comes from foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. Dietary fiber is the part of food that passes through the digestive system without breaking down or being digested.
Yes, you read that right. Fiber cannot be absorbed or broken down by the body. And that’s a good thing! This fact is what makes fiber such a good thing for your digestive health. A happy gut is a very good thing!
There are two kinds of fiber you will hear about: soluble and insoluble. Both are equally important so you don’t have to pick sides!
Soluble fiber, also known as water-soluble fiber, dissolves in water and forms into a gel-like substance. This gel-like substance moves slowly through the small intestines and stomach. This can help slow digestion, which in turn helps to keep blood sugar levels from spiking and traps fat so it cannot be absorbed all at once. This means soluble fiber can help lower glucose levels and cholesterol. Soluble fiber is found in a wide range of foods, including beans, seeds, oats, nuts, lentils, apples, and citrus fruits.
The equally important insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water. Rather, it acts like a sponge, absorbing liquid and swelling in size as it travels through the digestive tract. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to bowel movements and helps food pass more quickly through the stomach and intestines. For people who struggle with irregular bowel movements or constipation, increasing the intake of insoluble fiber can be hugely beneficial. Insoluble fiber can be found in foods like whole grains, legumes, most vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds.
How Much Fiber Do We Need?
The USDA recommends the daily amount of fiber for adults up to age 50 is 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men. Women and men older than 50 should have 21 and 30 daily grams, respectively.
We know that it is highly unlikely that you’re eating enough fiber. The average American only gets about 10-15 grams of fiber per day. That’s just half the recommended daily amount!
This stat is one of the reasons why we decided to make gut health one of our core areas of focus at hellowater®. Inspire health and make it easier. And our fiber infused water was born!
Where do I start?
Increase Fiber Slowly
Don’t head out and think you can double down and BAM – hit your fiber goals just like that! Why? Well, you need to give your body some time to adjust. Everyone reacts differently to fiber. So we definitely suggest introducing fiber-rich foods and beverages s-l-o-w-l-y.
Wait – didn’t we just tell you all about how important fiber is? So what’s with pumping the brakes!? Too much too fast can have the opposite effect you’re looking for. Spreading out your fiber intake throughout the day can help to reduce the risk of bloating and gastrointestinal discomfort from too much fiber all at once. No one likes that feeling.
Hydration is so key when you start increasing your fiber intake. Without it, you might experience constipation which is one of the actual things that fiber can actually help with! You should be aiming to get about a gallon of water daily. We can definitely help you with that! Our fiber infused water has 5 grams of fiber per bottle ideally balanced in a 1:5 ratio of carbs to fiber. Available in 7 amazing flavors we set out to make getting more fiber easy and delicious. We’re checking off two boxes for you – hydration and fiber!
Choose Fiber-Rich Foods
The key thing to focus on when trying to incorporate more fiber-rich foods into your diet is to look for whole food sources. Your body simply recognizes whole foods better than a supplement. (Our fiber infused water uses chicory root as a natural fiber source.) Then look to make some simple substitutions like swapping out white bread for a whole grain bread instead. Try making fruits and vegetables the most convenient thing to grab for a snack. (HINT – you can do this by washing, cutting, or peeling food ahead of time. Half of snacking is just being able to grab it without having to think about it!)
Think of fresh fruits like apples (with the skin), raspberries and bananas, and vegetables such as broccoli, Brussel sprouts, and green peas, just to name a few.
Another strategy is to make sure that a whole-grain food has at least 1 gram of fiber for every 10 grams of carbohydrate. If you look for a 1:5 ratio, that is even better. Remember that legumes like beans and lentils and even whole grains are also good sources of protein.
Fiber and Weight Loss
One of the benefits of optimizing fiber in your diet can also be weight loss and weight management. We’ve heard back from more than a few hellowaterers with great real-life stories of how increasing their fiber intake has helped them reach or maintain their weight loss goals.
One of the reasons fiber helps in this way is that fiber helps to keep us satiated. Feeling fuller for longer periods of time can help decrease snacking in between meals and may even cause us to eat less at mealtimes and when we do occasionally snack.
Fiber for the WIN!?
We aren’t suggesting that consuming fiber alone is going to be a magical fix for your health issues. Making more mindful lifestyle choices like incorporating daily movement, reducing sugar, getting better sleep, and enjoying better food choices is key.
With a lot to balance out – it can be hard to find the right place to start when you decide you want to improve your health and wellness. When focusing on gut health and fiber here’s what we suggest:
- Try setting a fiber goal for yourself. Remember, fast isn’t the best strategy with fiber but give yourself a target to help keep you moving the needle.
- The benefits of eating more fiber are best achieved through whole foods and natural fiber sources. There are tons of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and 7 flavors of hellowater® that can make adding more fiber to your diet easier and tastier than you might think.
We challenge you to get more fiber! Remember to take it slow and before you know it, you’ll be on your way to meeting your fiber goals and achieving better digestive health. You got this!