Out of every substance found in food, fiber seems to have the most controversy around it.
You can find people telling you to eat more fiber, which seems to be the standard advice.
Then you can find others who say fiber is a menace and that we don’t need hardly any of it.
When determining how much fiber we should be getting in our diets, I like to look at a few things.
Firstly, if there are any ulcers or serious malfunctions in the digestive system, or if someone suffers from major gas, it might serve that person to eat a very low fiber diet.
However, I am going to assume that you aren’t suffering from IBD, but rather are looking for the best information available in concerns to healing their skin through diet, lifestyle and supplementation.
Should We Be Eating Lots Of Fiber?
In short, yes.
In long… we need to be eating lots of fiber from whole vegetables, tubers, fruits and legumes (if tolerated). The problem is that most people get their fiber through either grains or supplements. Grains are nutrient poor and long term use of fiber supplements aren’t very promising.
If you look at traditional cultures, you’ll see that their fiber consumption is really high. If you look at most americans and people with acne, you’ll see that their fiber consumption is drastically low. In that respect, there are a lot of people who can benefit from consuming more fiber in their diets.
We consume drastically low amounts of fiber in our diets today. There is no fiber in meat. Only plant matter contains it. Most of the fiber in plants comes from the skin. Many phytochemicals are also bound to the skin of plants and help with disease prevention.
What Is Fiber?
Fiber is also known as roughage. It is the part of the plant that we cannot absorb. There are two types of fiber and it’s important to understand them. There is soluble and insoluble fiber. Intestinal bacteria eat soluble fiber and produce the short chain fatty acids that are the primary energy source for cells in the colon. This is a huge reason why fiber is important. It feeds bacteria in our guts. Sources of soluble fiber include fruits, vegetables, legumes, tubers, grains and seeds like flax and chia. Insoluble fiber physically moves things through the intestines. Raw vegetables have a lot of insoluble fiber in their skin. If you have diarrhea or digestive problems, you’ll want to limit insoluble fiber, which is found in the skin of raw fruits and vegetables. Instead, cook and puree, or blend your vegetables. You can also juice vegetables to take out the fiber while retaining much of the nutrients, although juices may cause diarrhea in some individuals. If you are more prone to constipation, fruits and vegetables are your best friends. Eat them in copious amounts.
Fiber helps move things through our digestive tract and keeps it running smoothly. Fiber binds to toxins and helps transport them out of the body.Fiber makes us feel fuller so we don’t eat as much. Fiber enhances digestion, decreases toxic load, suppresses appetite, contributes to regularity in terms of digestion and can aid in decreasing inflammation. A study in the Journal of Nutrition (2004) showed that the odds of having an elevated inflammatory marker called C-reactive protein was 50 percent higher in those that ate low fiber diets. Other studies confirm the role of dietary fiber on CRP. Higher fiber intake also lowers androgen levels. Remember androgens are hormones that increase sebum production and lead to more acne, so we want less of them. Thus, we need to consume adequate amounts of fiber.
How Much Fiber Did Our Ancestors Eat?
Prehistoric people ate 50 to 100 grams or more of fiber every day. The average daily dietary fiber intake of Americans is a measly 15 grams. This drastically low amount of fiber in our diet has been said to contribute to colon cancers, other forms of cancers, heart diseases, constipation and acne. Ideally we should get all the fiber we need from fruits and vegetables. There is a few instances where taking a fiber supplement might come in handy. I include a fiber supplement in my Acne Detox program for specific reasons you can read in the program.
- Fiber helps to enhance digestion by providing bulk to stools and sweeping things through the gut. It also feeds beneficial bacteria which provides a host of beneficial functions.
- The majority of people need more fiber in their diet because they aren’t eating enough fruits and vegetables.
- Most recommendations for fiber are things like grains and metamucil, when in reality people just need to eat more fruits and vegetables.
- If you experience massive amounts of gas, you may need to lower fiber and/or certain FODMAPS (fermentable fruits and vegetables) to provide relief while you work on some underlying causes.
Sidenote: If you have serious gastrointestinal diseases or digestive distress, it may be possible that eating a low fiber diet for a short amount of time to help heal the intestinal wall can be helpful. If you find that eating too much fiber in the context of a healthy whole foods diet simply doesn’t work with you, there are solutions available. Look into the GAPs and the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. Pureeing cooked vegetables and utilizing smoothies can help you get in fiber that is easier on digestion. As someone who overcame IBD, I can help guide you in the right direction. You can schedule a consult here.