Did you ever see the movie Cast Away? Tom Hanks played a FedEx exec stranded on a deserted island after a plane crash. It’s one of my favorite movies as it speaks to survival at its most basic elements: water, food, & shelter. It also tackles the emotional elements of survival: overcoming fear and finding companionship. After four long years, a plastic port-a-potty wall washes up on shore and despair turns to hope as our castaway envisions crafting a raft to sail himself off the island. He calculates the lengths of rope needed for strapping, exclaiming “We’re going to be short. We’re gonna need more rope.”
When it comes to our diet, especially a typical western diet, the same expression holds. “We’re gonna be short…we’re gonna need more…fiber!” According to the American Dietetic Association, 95% of Americans don’t reach even the daily minimum amount of fiber in their diets to maintain healthy digestion. Fiber also supports weight loss, blood sugar control and low cholesterol levels. So, let’s get fit with fiber!
What You Need
Research seems to vary a bit on the amount of fiber for men and women — between 25–40 grams per day. I recommend we all aim for 40 grams so at least we can clear the breakwaters if we’re getting over 25. Right now, you are likely getting 8–15 grams per day which isn’t going to get you off the island any time soon!
What it Does
Let’s start with the two types of fiber: soluble & insoluble.
Soluble fiberdissolves in water so itis the fiber that gets absorbed into your bloodstream. I like to call it the toothbrush that helps to clean out your bloodstream. It is vitally important to help maintain healthy blood sugar levels and inhibit cholesterol production by slowing digestion & absorption of carbs.
Insoluble fiber is the bulk fiber that we typically refer to as roughage because it doesn’t dissolve in water. It’s acts as a scrub brush for your colon. We need bulk fiber in our diet to help eliminate waste products which helps to reduce & prevent constipation and other more serious digestive issues like diverticulosis, colon cancer and other intestinal diseases. It also helps that healthy flora & fauna of “good-guy” bacteria. Another added bonus is enhanced weight loss. That full feeling you get when you eat fibrous foods satiates you faster so you don’t tend to over eat.
Where To Get It
Unlike our castaway who had a limited diet of coconut and fish, we have an abundant variety of foods to choose from when it comes to fiber. Soluble fiber is typically the hardest fiber to get into our diet. Some of the best sources are fruits, oats and beans. Insoluble fiber sources include nearly all raw vegetables, some fruits (especially the skin), whole grains, nuts, lentils and brown rice.
How to Integrate it
A good rule of thumb is to have at least one serving of multi-source fiber at each meal. Look at your hand and estimate that a serving of veggies, for example, is approx. the size of your fist (about 1 cup).
- Fiber Up First: Personally, I’m not a big fan of cereals and quick cooking oats. They typically have a lot of sugar and are too refined to provide much fiber benefit. If you like cereal, find good whole grain sources that have at least 5 grams of fiber per serving and opt for steel cut oats like Irish oatmeal. It takes longer to prepare but it packs a much bigger punch when it comes to soluble & insoluble fiber.
- Get Your Crunch On: Grab a handful of healthy nuts like almonds for a mid day snack. Snack on some fibrous snap peas or raw green beans.
- Sneak it In: Add legumes & sunflower seeds to salads, chili & stews to help bulk it up.
- Fiber Fix: Consider a multi-source fiber supplement to add additional grams to your daily diet. My favorite is FibRestore® which fills in the gaps with 10 grams of soluble and insoluble fiber per serving. Plus it has key antioxidants, digestive enzymes and a proprietary blend of 21 herbs deliver which offer additional benefits like more energy and a stronger immune system.
Key Nutrients in a complete fiber supplement:
- Beta Carotene, Vitamins C & E: potent antioxidants that neutralize cell-damaging free radicals
- Papain and bromelain: two key digestive enzymes reduce inflammation, promote and maintain proper digestion, relieve bloating and indigestion and help your body function more efficiently and energetically.
- Inulin: a pre-biotic fiber to feel fuller without extra calories while you enhance calcium absorption and support healthy digestion.
- Bioflavonoid rich herbs: ginseng, garlic and chamomile promote overall wellness thanks to the herbs’ revitalizing properties.
Bottom Line: Cast-away your low fiber diet for more digestive friendly fiber foods. Your colon will be your happiest companion on and off the island! Oh, and in case you’re wondering, there are about 5 grams of fiber in an ounce of dried coconut and about the same in a cup of raw coconut milk…so next time you’re stranded on a tropical island (poor you!) you can be rest-assured that you’ll have “enough rope.”
Get Your Fiber On with Fibrestore®: Go to: www.My24kVIP.com and enter vip code: gold to create your personal shopping lounge. Enjoy discounts on 24KTM (our healthy energy/focus shot) and access our entire line of performance nutrition including Fibrestore®
ps: Here’s a good resource to estimate the amount of fiber in your diet from NutritionMD: Quick Fiber Check
Copyright © 2012 by Christine A.Toriello, all rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without written consent from the author.