Fiber isn’t glamorous. In fact, the first thing that comes to mind when we think of fiber is … well, poop. And that isn’t wrong. However, we feel it’s important to shift that graphic image to be one of proper detox, nutrient absorption, and so, so much more instead. With all the adaptogens, herbs, and pricey beauty elixirs stealing the market, we want to remind everyone to drop back into the basics.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (and probably any doctor) recommends that adult women should aim for 25g of fiber per day, and even more for adult men (38g). For those of us with a healthy diet, we probably aren’t thinking of our daily fiber intake on a metric level. For example, the average green smoothie will typically have about 5-7g of fiber; a salad for lunch may only have about 5g of fiber; and a hearty, fiber-filled lentil stew for dinner could have up to 9g.
On this seemingly perfect, absolutely clean day of meals, we are still only getting about 19g of fiber … which is great! But it’s difficult to always eat this way, and fiber intake should not create disordered or panicked thoughts about what we are choosing to eat at all times. Afterall, we gotta LIVE!
So how do we up the ante on our fiber intake without freaking out about every morsel that touches our lips, or worse, consuming extra calories we don’t necessarily need or want to meet the goal? The answer is in those food choices when we do have control, and supplementation when we have less control – i.e. eating out, traveling, enjoying things like pizza … Don’t make us give up pizza.
There are tons of great options on the market – one of them being psyllium husk. This magical fiber is made from the husks of the shrub-like Plantago ovata plant’s seeds, and it is a soluble fiber. This powerful form of fiber is an excellent source of prebiotics, used primarily as a gentle bulk-former, helping to give shape to our stool and absorb water. Why is this important? We want our stools to absorb water so that throughout the digestive process, we can slowly reabsorb some of that water to stay hydrated (we are not able to stay well hydrated when we constantly experiencing loose or wet bowel movements), and at the same time, absorb more nutrients from our food.
Fiber is something we can’t digest or absorb, but instead, it helps to create “bulk.” This makes fiber act like a broom, sweeping toxins out of your body through your gut – and bulking the stool helps us to detoxify thoroughly every time we use the restroom. We know … we’re talking about poop again, but hear us out. The bulk and expansion of water makes us feel fuller and for longer, so we need less calories to stay satiated than when we eat other snacky foods (hence the term “empty calories”).
Because of the bulk, it has a slight laxative effect – which makes unwanted waste get eliminated faster before it has time to build up in the body. Additionally, as a prebiotic and bulker that keeps the gut in tiptop shape, fiber helps benefit the liver and kidneys — two other major detox organs. By increasing antioxidant and detoxifying enzymes in the liver, it reduces the burden on the kidneys.
Proper, highly functioning elimination and detoxification will manifest in clearer, brighter skin, better sleep, improved mood, strengthened immunity, weight loss, and positive results in every other major bodily function. Try upping your intake of chicory and bitter greens, oats, avocados, and resistant starch which can be found in cooked and cooled starches like sunchokes, potatoes, beans, and rice. Try using these ingredients in a big meal, saving the leftovers, and heating them up throughout the week for a consistent dose of daily fiber. Your gut (and everything else!) will thank you.