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What is FIBER and Why Do I Need it?

Updated: Jul 16, 2021

FIBER is a type of CARBOHYDRATE and is generally considered to be the good part of a plant. You may be one of the majority who has been mislead by the diet industry into believing that carbs are the forbidden macronutrient. Here is the truth: Your body isn't able to digest carbohydrates in the form of fiber and therefore fiber can't be broken down into sugar molecules. You may actually be jeopardizing your health by eliminating carbs from your diet.

Why is this indigestible carb called fiber considered "good" ? For years, we looked to fiber as a way to maintain "regular" bowel movements 💩 and subsequently lower our theoretical risk for developing colorectal cancer and other chronic diseases common in the western world today. Currently, less than 5% of Americans consume the recommended 25 to 35 grams of fiber each day and colorectal cancer has been steadily on the rise for decades. In fact, the U.S. Preventive Task Force now recommends adults in America be screened for colorectal cancer starting at age 45! If you are already on your way to the grocery store to purchase a fiber supplement, STOP 🛑! There is more you need to know.

There are 2 types of fiber, soluble and insoluble, and each are beneficial to our health. Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water and remains unchanged as it passes through your digestive system. This type of fiber serves to regulate the frequency of your stools 💩 thereby making you more "regular". Soluble fiber, on the other hand, dissolves in water and forms a gel-like substance that makes stools 💩 softer and easier to pass. Soluble fiber is thought to be responsible for lowering cholesterol 🍳 , reducing the risk of heart ❤️ disease, and regulating blood 🩸 sugar levels. Soluble fiber also has been shown to slow digestion, reduce hunger, increase feelings of fullness and satiety, and to aid in weight loss. But there is more! These soluble fibers are now considered prebiotics. You may have heard of PRObiotic supplements. Probiotics are living microbes swallowed in pill form that theoretically enhance the microbial diversity of our guts. PREbiotics, on the other hand, are the soluble fibers responsible for feeding our gut MICROBIOME. Our gut whaaaaaat????

The gut MICROBIOME consists of over 39 trillion microbes like bacteria 🧫 , viruses 🦠 , yeasts, parasites, and archaea that reside within our intestinal tracts. When I graduated from chiropractic 🦴 school in 2003, the microbiome had yet to be explored. Until advances in genomic sequencing, we had very little understanding of these invisible bugs living inside of us. These bugs are our friends. I repeat, the microbes that live within our guts are our friends! In order for us to thrive, our gut microbes must be fed properly, and to do this we must feed them foods containing prebiotic soluble fibers. The human gut microbiome has now been dubbed The Control Center for Human Biology.

Still thinking about that orange powder or supplemental pill 💊 form of fiber? Think again. Supplements are typically made from one or two different types of fiber. Psyllium, an herb grown in India and used in Ayurveda, is the main fiber component of one common fiber supplement found in your grocery store. Sounds great, however, work on The American Gut Project between 2012 and 2017 revealed that the number one predictor of a healthy gut microbiome is the diversity of plants in one's diet. Eating more than 30 different plants per week produces unique fiber loving bacteria that are not present in a plant deficient diet. By taking a fiber supplement, you are getting the benefits of just one or two plants. This is hardly enough diversity for your microbiome to thrive so don't waste your money 💰 .

Here are some high fiber plant foods to add to your diet. The gut health experts recommend we aim for around 30 grams of fiber every day.

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