Welcome back to Spring Clean Your Life!

Day 5 - Spring Clean Your Colon

We’re spring cleaning our colon with a magical ingredient in food, fiber. Fiber is the magic ingredient that helps to make a carbohydrate complex. Fiber also helps keep our blood sugar more constant and us feeling fuller longer. And, if we don't get enough of it, our intestines can resemble a rush hour traffic jam in Washington, DC. Nothing is going anywhere fast. Fiber also helps to spring clean our colon and helps to reduce the risk of cancer, high cholesterol, diabetes and cardiovascular disease to name just a few. Studies have even shown that people who consume higher levels of fiber tend to be thinner and maintain their weight. 

How exactly does fiber spring clean?  

Dietary fiber only comes from plant food and is not digested by our bodies. On a food label, you’ll see Dietary Fiber listed under Total Carbohydrates. Often, this is broken down further into Soluble and Insoluble Fiber which is super helpful! 

  • Soluble fiber: Dissolves in water and forms a gel-like substance. This type of fiber helps us feel fuller longer because it slows down how quickly our stomach empties. This may also help control our blood sugar levels. Soluble fiber may also interfere with our absorption of dietary cholesterol which can help reduce our LDL levels. Soluble fiber has also been known to keep our bacteria healthy in our intestines which boosts our immune system! Soluble fiber is like the fiber who keep things tidy and clean.

  • Insoluble fiber: Does not dissolve in water and passes on through digestive system relatively intact. This literally helps keep things moving in our digestive tract while also adding bulk to our guts and reducing the risk of constipation. Think of it as the regulator and the vacuum cleaner all in one! Studies have found insoluble fiber is particularly helpful in reducing the risk of diverticulitis. 

Isn't fiber awesome? Now, I'm sure you're wondering what the best sources of it are. I highlighted the whole grains

 Foods that Rock Soluble Fiber: 

  1. Oats/Oat Bran

  2. Nuts

  3. Flaxseed

  4. Chia Seeds

  5. Quinoa

  6. Beans/Lentils

  7. Barley 

  8. Fruit (especially unpeeled apples, citrus, strawberries)

 Foods that Rock Insoluble Fiber:

  1. Whole Wheat

  2. Other Whole Grains like oats, buckwheat, amaranth, quinoa, and others

  3. Wheat Bran

  4. Popcorn

  5. Fruits and Vegetables especially with the peels like on apples and potatoes

 Wondering how much we should eat each day?

Well, most Americans only get about 15 g/day. But, we should all be eating between 25 - 30 g/day. Some people even need more each day.

Is it okay to increase my fiber quickly?

Don't say I didn't warn you! You don't want to go from zero to 60 when it comes to fiber. Gradually increase your fiber intake so that your body can adjust gradually. You'll also want to increase your water intake along with your fiber intake since soluble fiber binds with water. 

Happy Spring Cleaning! See you tomorrow!