Welcome to another edition of the Doctor’s Note where we talk about what’s on our minds when it comes to your health. This week we’re focusing on FIBER and the impact it has on your gut health. We always talk about how everything starts in the gut and how you need probiotics and prebiotics, etc., but what often gets missed in the conversation is the importance of FIBER.
The Importance of Fiber
Fiber is so important because it helps your colon. Fiber helps digest foods and move things through the body. It helps move toxins out of your colon. The average person gets about 15 grams of fiber per day, which is not nearly enough. Note: Men need at least 35 grams of fiber per day and women need at least 30 grams.
Ninety percent of Americans don’t get enough FIBER. I was in that 90th percentile. This past week, I experienced that uncomfortable, bloaty feeling called constipation. The first two things that came to mind were: HYDRATE and add more FIBER. My dad, who was a colon surgeon, mixed Metamucil for himself everyday. He was convinced that fiber in the diet decreases colon cancer (and he was right!).
So, I went to the store and got some Metamucil and Citrucel (the powders of Fiber). When I started looking at the ingredients list of both, I noticed that there were a lot of chemicals, and sugar! That got my attention. I decided it was time for a deep dive on FIBER to find out if there was a better source.
The Two Types Of Fiber
There are two types of fiber: Soluble and Insoluble.
Soluble fiber dissolves in water and in the gut. Soluble is better for diarrhea. Insoluble fiber moves things through. It forms bulk and helps move toxins through your gut. Insoluble is better for constipation and IBS. There are no calories in insoluble fiber. Both types are important, but if you had to choose one type you would most likely lean towards the insoluble because your bowels will move better. You need both.
Metamucil is mostly soluble psyllium. The reason I don’t love this is because they mix it with too much stuff that’s not good for you. Psyllium is a good fiber, but make sure you get the organic type because there can be a lot of chemicals in there.
Benefits of Soluble Fiber:
- Lowers fat absorption
- Blocks fat and decreases cholesterol
- Helps decrease blood sugar spikes and feed the healthy gut bacteria
Benefits of Insoluble Fiber:
- Prevents constipation
- Decreases diverticular disease of the colon
- Decreases hemorrhoids
- Decreases cancer of the colon
Again, you need both.
My Favorite Fiber Supplement
It’s probably best to get your fiber from food, but most people need a supplement. The best source of any fiber is what you eat: vegetables, fruits (avoid high glycemic), nuts, seeds, and maybe oats. There are chia and flax seeds. I think the seeds are better than the oils. I like Flax over Chia. Both are good sources, but Flax has more antioxidants. Seeds are better because it’s a whole food (Oils are not a whole food and they’re processed).
Hemp protein, in my opinion, is probably the best supplement for fiber. It has both soluble and insoluble fiber in it. It causes less gas and has many other health benefits. I take a hemp protein powder supplement daily, which has good fiber in it. I also chew on hemp seeds for their protein, antioxidants, and omega 3’s. Adding them to my salads, yogurt, and smoothies is also good.
Hemp protein is anti-inflammatory. It has a great Omega 6 (GLA form) to Omega 3 ratio (3:1). It contains antioxidants you need for heart health. It has arginine that increases your nitric oxide production (healthy for your vessels). PLUS, it’s also a good source of Magnesium and Melatonin to help with sleep and anxiety.
Hemp protein is good for skin and hair. The fiber in it is 80% insoluble fiber. It helps you lose weight because it keeps you full. If you take it 30 minutes before a meal you won’t eat as much. Athletes use this protein to increase muscle.
Note: Melatonin only works for sleep when it’s dark. So you can take this during the middle of the day and it won’t make you sleepy.
How To Take A Fiber Supplement
- If you get the powder, fiber does not mix well. When you stir it up make sure you drink the whole thing right then.
- If you’re on any medications, do not take the medicines within 2 hours either side of taking your fiber. It can interfere with medicine absorption. The same goes for your vitamins. Do not take your vitamins within 1 hour either side of taking fiber.
- If you are extremely constipated, fiber may make it worse. It may give you more gas and bloating.
- Definitely take your DigestShield (probiotics, prebiotics, and digestive enzymes) with it.
Bottom line is you need more fiber for a host of good healthy reasons. My clear cut choice is in the form of ORGANIC HEMP.