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The Benefits of Fiber for Gut Health

Jan 04, 2023

Health

Benefits of fiber

Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that is found in plant-based foods and is not digested by the body. Instead, it passes through the digestive system relatively intact, providing a number of health benefits.

One of the main benefits of fiber on gut health is that it helps to bulk up the stool and keep the intestines moving regularly. This can help to prevent constipation and promote regular bowel movements.

In addition to its role in digestion, fiber may also have other benefits for gut health. Some research suggests that fiber may help to promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut, which can help to support a healthy balance of microorganisms in the digestive system.

Fiber may also help to reduce the risk of certain digestive disorders, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), colorectal cancer, diverticular disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and metabolic syndrome.

Dietary Sources of Fiber

Increasing your intake of fiber-rich foods is an important part of maintaining proper gut health. Some good sources of fiber include certain fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes, and nuts.

Here are my top 10 gluten-free sources of dietary fiber:

  • Raspberries: 8 grams of fiber per cup (about 154 grams)
  • Avocado: 7 grams of fiber per cup (about 201 grams)
  • Black beans: 7 grams of fiber per cup (about 172 grams)
  • Artichoke: 6 grams of fiber per medium-sized artichoke (~120 grams)
  • Split peas: 16 grams of fiber per cup (about 192 grams)
  • Lentils: 15 grams of fiber per cup (about 198 grams)
  • Chia seeds: 10 grams of fiber per ounce (about 28 grams)
  • Flaxseeds: 8 grams of fiber per ounce (about 28 grams)
  • Almonds: 4 grams of fiber per ounce (about 28 grams)
  • Broccoli: 5 grams of fiber per cup (about 91 grams)

It's important to note that these are estimates and may vary based on the specific brand or type of food you are consuming. It's also important to consider the overall nutritional value of these foods and include a variety of sources of fiber in your diet.

Recommended daily intake of fiber

According to the Institute of Medicine, the recommended daily intake of fiber for adults is as follows:

  • Men: 38 grams per day for men aged 19-50 and 30 grams per day for men aged 51 and older
  • Women: 25 grams per day for women aged 19-50 and 21 grams per day for women aged 51 and older

These recommendations are for total fiber intake, including both soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and can help to lower cholesterol and regulate blood sugar levels, while insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water and helps to promote regular bowel movements.

Ideally aim for a balance of both types of fiber in your diet, which is easy to do since most plant based foods contain both sources of fiber. Some excellent sources of soluble fiber include black and kidney beans, peas, Brussels sprouts, carrots, apples, avocados, figs and apricots. Good sources of insoluble fiber include sweet potatoes, quinoa, kale, black beans, lentils, raspberries and almonds.

Keep in mind that it is very important to drink plenty of water when increasing your fiber intake in order to help the fiber pass through the digestive system more easily.

Fiber is a Prebiotic

Fiber is considered a prebiotic because it is a type of carbohydrate that is not digested by the body and passes through the digestive system relatively intact. When it reaches the large intestine, it is fermented by bacteria, which helps to promote the growth of beneficial microorganisms in the gut.

Prebiotics are substances that stimulate the growth and activity of beneficial bacteria in the digestive system, and fiber is one of the most well-known prebiotics. The fermentation of fiber by bacteria in the gut produces short-chain fatty acids, which can have a number of health benefits, including supporting the health of the intestinal lining and reducing inflammation.

In addition to promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria, fiber may also help to reduce the growth of harmful bacteria and maintain a healthy balance of microorganisms in the gut. This is why increasing your intake of fiber-rich foods is an important part of maintaining good gut and overall health.

If you have any questions regarding your daily fiber intake, nutrition, self-care or other healthy living protocols, contact our holistic nutritionist at any time.

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