1) It helps remove toxins stored in fat cells so your energy can soar
2) It helps eliminate those toxins once they’re released so you can lose weight easier
3) It helps remove excess estrogen – the types you don’t want more of and that make you estrogen dominant, supporting better hormone balance.
3) It helps you go more regularly more effortlessly – and a huge % of women over 50 are constipated and have accepted that as normal – it is not! Your belly will look and feel so much better when you fully eliminate.
4) It improves good/bad bacteria balance in the gut by feeding the good bacteria.- which can reduce gas and bloating too many women in midlife experience frequently.
5) It keeps you full longer so you can kill cravings and avoid temptation. (Pair it with protein and you’re golden).
6) It supports stable blood sugar levels so your energy is constant.
7) It helps remove cholesterol from your body and after menopause more women find cholesterol numbers jump higher.
8) Helps you avoid diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and colon cancer, and breast cancer.
9) It is tied to reduction in blood pressure – another problem that can happen in midlife when hormones begin to change the game.
10) It reduces inflammation – which is again tied to bad bacteria taking over internally.
11) If you are exposed to toxins (mercury, pesticides, BPA) unknowingly, fiber in your diet daily helps reduce the time they’re in your body.
Count on it
Take a week and track all your fiber. If you already use a food app, many will track your fiber intake for you. Otherwise, read labels and ask Google. Write it all down.
All you want to do first is count the number of grams you get daily. Do it for 5 days. What’s your average intake? Do you have a big range? What days are you low on fiber? Can you tie it to patterns in how often you poop or your energy levels?
The recommendation for fiber is lower than any generation before us used to eat. Yet we’ve got more toxin exposure, stress, and less time to rest than ever. That doesn’t add up to a good digestive system.
Women over 50 are recommended to get 21 grams of fiber (men more). That’s a downshift from under 50, which was 25 grams. That seems completely backwards to me. Ancestors (with all the Paleo hype, it’s relative) ate something like 135 grams of fiber a day. (No, not a typo). The average fiber intake for Americans is 15 grams.
I shoot for 15 grams of fiber in a smoothie before 9 am! (Plus the 30 grams of protein and packed-with antioxidants from veggies and small amount of fruit? And I’m full for hours… in minutes… for less $ than any other meal would cost).
Ultimately, between 35 and 50 grams of fiber daily is linked to more optimal weight, energy, and health according to nutrition and functional medicine doctors who specialize in gut health. [I’ll link to some of the interviews on Flipping 50 covering gut health.]
How to Start Your Fiber Boost
Find your average first. Don’t shoot for some arbitrary goal. Too much too soon isn’t good. Let your body adapt to slow changes and you’ll feel great along the way. Add 5 grams to your current daily average. Stick with that goal for a week. As you increase fiber increase water consumption, too (all ways count- water, higher water foods).
Feeling bloated, heavy, or “full” does not enhance desire to exercise! And yes, exercise can help, but you got to be feeling good to start. Once you begin moving more physically will definitely mean you move things more effectively on the inside.
When you have more stable blood sugar levels thanks to increases in fiber and feel “lighter” because of better elimination when that window of time to exercise opens you won’t be tempted to skip it because your ravished or trashed – you’ll be ready and wanting to be active.
Types of Fiber
You’ve been learning this since 5th grade but just for a helpful reminder.
This dissolves in water and forms a gel-like material. It’s found in oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, and psyllium.
This promotes movement of material through your digestive system and increases stool bulk. Beans and cauliflower, sweet potatoes are good sources. So are whole wheat flour and wheat bran, but if you’ve got a food sensitivity like so many women in Flipping 50 programs (who didn’t realize it), you want to look for other options.
Food is always the best source of fiber because it contains vitamins and minerals too. But in a busy world if you’re not getting adequate fiber (and trying to bump your intake) a supplement can work. I choose one that is made with a variety of fiber sourced from real foods so my body thinks it’s just like a plate of food. I use it in every smoothie and for midday cravings you can add it to a glass of water if you’re trying not to snack to reset your hormones. A teaspoon adds 4-5 grams of fiber. Daily? Or a couple times a day that’s a big boost.
The Carbohydrate Problem
If you’re barely eating carbs, and you’ve stopped grains pretty much altogether, you have fewer sources of fiber. So beware if you thought no carbs would make it easy to lose weight, you want to shift to resistant starches that will help stabilize blood sugar, and still allow you to get adequate fiber.
Smoothies – it’s a vessel for fiber plus protein, antioxidants, healthy fat, and 2-3 servings of vegetables that juice is definitely not, and neither is eggs and bacon
Soups and Chili – packed with beans and sweet potatoes along with other veggies and topped with avocado, they’ll put you well on your way to a high fiber day
High Fiber Food Sources
- Avocado -10.5 grams per cup
- Asian Pears – 9.9 grams per medium
- Raspberries – 8 grams per cup
- Blackberries – 7.6 grams per cup
- Coconut – 7.2 grams per cup
- Acorn squash – 9 grams per cup
- Artichokes – 10.3 grams of fiber per medium
- Brussels sprouts – 7.6 grams per cup
- Okra- 8.2 grams per cup
- Peas – 8.6 grams per cup
- Black beans – 12.2 grams per cup – and try black bean pasta
- Chickpeas – 8 grams per cup
- Lima beans – 13.2 grams per cup
- Lentils – 10.4 grams per cup
- Almonds – 0.6 grams per 6 almonds
- Walnuts – 1.9 grams per 1 ounce
- Flax seeds – 3 grams per tablespoon
- Chia seeds – 10 grams per 2 tablespoons
- Quinoa – 5 grams per cup
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