What is fiber and what does it mean to feed your gut the fiber it needs? Fiber is an often overlooked but vital nutrient that is important for gut health, weight management, lowering cholesterol, and regulating blood sugar levels.
By definition, fiber is the non-digestible part of carbohydrates that adds bulk to food. Consuming more fiber-rich foods helps you feel fuller after eating, so you generally eat less throughout the day. In addition, as fiber swells in the stomach, it absorbs and removes fat and calories and boosts metabolism.
Fiber Health Benefits:
- Promotes weight loss and management
- Supports healthy cholesterol levels
- Supports healthy blood sugar regulation
- Promote regularity & helps prevent constipation
- Reduces bloating
- Improves energy metabolism
- Increases chances for longevity
Although fiber cannot be digested by humans and used as fuel, a specific type of fiber known as prebiotic fiber can be broken down and used as an energy source by the bacteria in our gut. The prebiotic fiber found in Inner Life!, has been clinically proven to help fuel the growth of bifidobacteria, a strain of good bacteria linked to key gut health benefits.
Prebiotic Fiber Additional Health Benefits:
- Supports microbiome health
- Promotes & nourishes the growth of good bacteria in the gut
- Supports immune health
Soluble versus Insoluble fiber
There are two different kinds of fiber—soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. It is essential to eat a diet rich in both as they have unique health benefits.
An apple's skin, the outside shell of beans, and seeds in blackberries are great examples of insoluble fiber. Our body cannot break these insoluble fibers down, so they move through the digestive system relatively intact. Insoluble fibers are not dissolved by water or fermented by the bacteria in the colon, which is why they are called insoluble.
Since insoluble fibers are not broken down, they help keep our digestive system moving by adding bulk to stool. Insoluble fiber regulates and promotes bowel movements, prevents constipation, and removes waste from the body in a timely fashion. Insoluble fibers can also be found in whole wheat flour, wheat bran, cauliflower, green beans, and potatoes. (1)
On the opposite end of the spectrum, soluble fiber plays a different role in digestion. Soluble fiber, such as the fiber found in oats, dissolves in water during digestion forming a gel-like substance that can bind cholesterol and remove it from the body. Eating 5 to 10 grams of soluble fiber a day can help lower total and LDL-cholesterol by 5 to 11 points, and sometimes more. Be sure to drink more water when you increase your fiber intake to ensure that soluble fiber can work efficiently in the gut.
Soluble fiber not only can help lower the cholesterol level but also plays an essential role in regulating blood sugar levels by slowing down how quickly sugar is metabolized in the intestine. Consuming more soluble fiber has been shown to lower the body's glycemic index response and help manage diabetes. Soluble fiber is found in black beans, lima beans, Brussels sprouts, avocado, sweet potato, broccoli, turnips, apples, oranges, grapefruit, and more. (2)
How much fiber do you need daily?
Did you know that the average American only consumes about 16 grams of fiber per day? While that figure may seem normal to you, it's quite slightly lower than the daily recommended intake. According to the American Heart Association, we should be consuming roughly 25 to 30 grams of fiber per day, depending on age, sex, and calorie needs. Women under 50, between 21 and 25 grams per day, are recommended, while men under 50 should consume 30 to 38 grams of fiber per day. It's also recommended that children between the ages of 1 and 18 should consume 14 to 31 grams of fiber per day. (3)
What foods are high in fiber?
Up first? Whole grains! Wheat, oats, brown or wild rice, corn, and quinoa are among the most common whole grains that contain high amounts of fiber. Try to avoid white bread and rolls, as they're typically made from wheat flour, meaning most of the fiber has been removed. Enriched grains are also a no-no when it comes to fiber intake, as 'enriched' simply means white flour with vitamins added to it by the manufacturer. (4)
Fruits & Vegetables
Among the many health benefits of fruits and vegetables, they're both a great dietary fiber source. Snack on fruits like raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, avocado, pears, and apples to up your fiber intake in a sweet way. Fresh or frozen, incorporating veggies such as asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, artichokes, and sweet potatoes into your meals will make for a happy, healthy, fiber-filled gut.
The legume family includes beans, lentils, and peas that are all rich in soluble fiber. Beans are a particularly good source of fermentable fiber that feeds the diverse colony of healthy bacteria in the gut. (5) Pinto beans, black beans, split peas, lentils, kidney beans, soybeans, green peas, and chickpeas are all fiber-full favorites from the legume list.
Nuts and Seeds
Full of good fats and proteins, nuts and seeds are known to have many health benefits—including high fiber content. They also make an excellent substitute for your salty or sweet snacks, as just one ounce of nuts and seeds can provide a vital contribution to your daily fiber recommendation. Pinon nuts, almonds, peanuts, walnuts, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, and flaxseed are among those that pack a one-two fiber-punch. (6)
Insider tip: Be sure to drink lots of water when increasing your fiber intake. Fiber pulls in water, but if you aren't drinking enough, it can throw a wrench in your regular bowel movements. Try drinking at least 2 liters of water each day to keep things moving smoothly. (7)
Is all fiber prebiotic?
In a nutshell, not all dietary fibers are prebiotics, but all prebiotics are dietary fibers. Prebiotic fibers are soluble fibers that feed the probiotics, or the good bacteria already live inside the large intestine. The more food, or prebiotics, that probiotics have to eat, the more efficiently these live bacteria work, and the healthier your gut will be.
Inner Life! makes meeting your daily prebiotic needs easy and is conveniently packaged in single-serve sticks. Each serving of Inner Life! 's prebiotic drink mix provides 3.8g of the clinically-proven prebiotic fiber, Arabinoxylan. Inner Life! is made with only the best ingredients, meaning no artificial sweeteners, colors, preservatives, or gluten. Additionally, Inner Life! is gentle on the stomach and will not cause the bloating or belly discomfort associated with other prebiotic fibers. Just add it to water and enjoy!