Almost everyone has been told, at some point in their youth, to eat fruits and vegetables that we didn’t really want to eat. Of course we assume this is for good reason, but it’s so rare for people to be able to actually point out why it is. What’s in plants that’s so much better for us? Why can’t we get the same nutrients from other things? As it turns out, the key to it all is fiber, making fiber foods that are rich in this nutrient an important part of anyone’s diet and digestive lifestyle.
Unlike most nutrients, fiber arrives essentially unchanged in the colon, rather than being absorbed by the intestines or the stomach. There are two primary uses your body has for this fiber: firstly, to provide roughage for comfortable passing of stools, and secondly, to provide nutrition to the bacteria that naturally inhabit your colon. Therefore, if you’re having trouble on the toilet or having other digestion-related ills, one of the first things you should consider is increasing your fiber intake. This is, of course, provided that you don’t already have sufficient fiber intake, but few people other than vegetarians do, these days.
While we mostly associate bacteria with negative things, there are many millions of good bacteria in everyone’s colons. These bacteria help to fight disease and promote healthy consistency of stools. If you didn’t have them, you’d be in a great deal of trouble, which is why enemas are not generally recommended by doctors as a do-it-yourself health procedure.
So what should you eat to get the fiber you need for a healthy gut? There are a lot of things, in fact. Many vegetables are higher in fiber than others, such as artichokes, various types of beans, and corn. Wheat-derived products are also helpful, but the processed white style of bread is not, and should be avoided in favor of whole wheat breads. Many nuts are also viable fiber sources. So if you don’t care for your vegetables, don’t worry, there are plenty of other choices.
While planning your dietary considerations, don’t forget that there are two kinds of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Your body requires both for healthy maintenance, so plan to get both in roughly equal amounts. Some foods will have more of one than the other, or may be composed almost wholly of one or the other. But the aforementioned artichokes split it at fifty-fifty, making them an easy choice for your fiber foods. So long as you get what you need, it doesn’t really matter where you get it.
Dr. Michael Allen
Fitness Instructor & Fat Loss Factor Founder