By Alecia Sexton
Most health conscious individuals are aware about appropriate carbohydrate, protein and fat intakes. Something, however, that almost 95 percent of Americans are ignoring is fiber. Often we associate fiber with prune juice, bran and many other cringe worthy foods, and while it’s true that these foods have the highest fiber content, it is possible to eat a fiber rich diet without getting queasy.
We may not always consider fiber a nutrient, but according to the American Dietetic Association it certainly is. Even more, this nutrient is incredibly important for supporting the body’s detoxification mechanism, energy maintenance, and overall athletic health and performance.
Fiber is a complex-carbohydrate that sourced from a variety of plant-based foods such as fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds. The two forms of fiber that are found in nature are insoluble and soluble. Insoluble ber supports digestion and the elimination of toxins while soluble ber helps steady blood sugar, aid intestinal nutrient absorption, and ensure proper hydration.
Perhaps the most significant component of fiber is its detoxification properties since we are exposed to many ‘hidden’ toxins in our daily lives such as food, tap water, and the environment. The daily recommended amount of fiber for men and women under 50 is 38 grams and 25 grams, respectively and since only 3 percent of people consume this amount, attention should definitely be given to this vital nutrient.
It should be noted, however, while fiber has many benefits, high fiber meals should be avoided right before exercise since consuming it puts the body into a ‘rest and digest’ stage in which blood flow and bodily energy is focused into the digestive system, not to the muscles. Also, drinking plenty of fluids throughout the day in conjunction with consuming fiber is crucial since fiber absorbs water in your digestive tract and can lead to constipation (eww, i know) if there’s not enough water present.
Of course, before changing your diet around and increasing your fiber intake significantly, you should consult with your healthcare provider to make sure it would be a beneficial component to your life.