The Importance of Fiber and How to Incorporate More into Your Diet
Fiber can be found in vegetables, fruits, beans and whole grains. And it’s important. Its job is to bulk up the stool and retain water. Bacteria then helps to digest the fiber, producing healthy ingredients for the colon and promoting healthy bowel movements. Without enough fiber in your diet, you could experience constipation. Too much can result in loose stools, bloating and diarrhea. So much fiber is the right amount of fiber? In the Standard American Diet, 10% of our diet is fiber, when we really need 35-40%, according to the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA).
Fiber is an element that we do not digest or absorb. It quickly passes through your digestive tract and left intact. There are two kinds – soluble and insoluble. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Soluble fiber dissolves with water and creates a gel-like substance that helps to lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels.” Insoluble fiber absorbs water, “which adds bulk to your digestive tract and helps to move things through quickly.”
New research has shown that fiber is actually more important to the bacteria in our gut, than to our overall body. Here’s what that means –
In order to digest food, we need to bathe it in enzymes that breakdown its molecules. Those molecular fragments then pass through the gut wall and are absorbed into our intestines. But our bodies make a limited range of enzymes, so that we cannot break down many of the tough compounds in plants. These indigestible molecules are called Dietary Fiber, and they are only indigestible to us – not to the bacteria that survive on fiber and are able to break it down.
Link between Bacteria and Fiber in your Gut
Probiotics are the “good” bacteria that live in the gut. They are the key to good health and the gateway to healthy digestion and regularity. Without them, problematic bacteria in the gut thrive and increase, leading to digestive issues like bloating and constipation. Dr. Andrew Gewirtz of Georgia State University explains that one way that fiber benefits health is by giving us, indirectly, another source of food. “Once bacteria are done harvesting the energy in dietary fiber, they cast off the fragments as waste. That waste – in the form of short-chain fatty acids – is absorbed by intestinal cells, which use it as fuel.”
A low-fiber diet can disturb an otherwise healthy relationship between the bacteria in the gut, as seen in numerous studies. With less fuel, the intestinal cells grow slowly and without a constant signal from bacteria, the cells slow their production of mucus and bacteria-killing poisons, edging bacteria closer to the intestinal wall and kicking your immune system into high gear.
If you are having trouble incorporating more fiber into your diet by consuming beans, whole grains, nuts, berries, and vegetables, flaxseed powder may be what you need. Flaxseeds are one of the world’s healthiest foods, as they supply a number of essential nutritional ingredients. Flaxseeds are a source of lignans that support the health of the hair and skin, and breast health. Because flaxseeds supply all three families of omega-3 fatty acids, it also supports heart and brain health and circulatory health. A non-GMO, domestically grown, organic flaxseed powder will provide the protein and fiber your diet needs.