Ok, I know that no one wants to discuss what happens in the bathroom, but we’ve all experienced the occasional period when stubborn bowels make it tough to go. But the distress normally passes and you’re on your way.
However, if you suffer from chronic constipation, there are a host of conditions including hemorrhoids, diverticulitis, and even colon cancer that can come with the territory.
Fortunately, increasing your intake of healthy fiber in your diet can help you stay regular and ward off digestive diseases—as well as high cholesterol, blood clots that can lead to heart attacks and stroke, and type 2 diabetes!
There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble.
Soluble fiber dissolves in water and forms a gel-like substance in the body. It’s responsible for helping to keep cholesterol and glucose levels stable. Great sources of soluble fiber include apples, oats, beans, barley, and psyllium. Constipation and irregular stools can be alleviated with the addition of insoluble fiber.
Insoluble fiber doesn’t dissolve in water and helps move matter through your digestive system by increasing stool bulk. Some foods rich in insoluble fiber are wheat bran, nuts, and many vegetables.
How much & how often?
If your diet hasn’t included lots of high-fiber foods, you’ll want to introduce them gradually over a couple of weeks. That way, you can avoid the discomfort of gas, bloating, or cramping and allow the flora of your digestive system to adjust to the new addition. When adding fiber to your diet, you also need to add water! Much like a garbage disposal, without water, fiber can’t do its job of keeping material moving and flushing you out.
The National Institutes of Health recommends that adults consume 35 grams of fiber per day but 40-50 grams is even better!
Opt for getting your fiber from eating whole foods in lieu of supplements like Metamucil, and focus on incorporating the following into your diet for the best boost: cinnamon; freshly ground flaxseeds; whole-wheat bread and whole bran cereals; beans, peas, and lentils; apples, dates, and raspberries; celery, sweet potatoes, and broccoli; and walnuts, hazelnuts, and pumpkin seeds.
Make an apple a day your dietary mantra and you’ll be off to a great start! And in no time, your gut will be thanking you for making friends with fiber.
I realize that there are tons of supplements on the market and it can get confusing. I’ll make it simple for you, click here for the supplements that I give my family.
- Ginger – my go-to oil for soothing stomach aches and digestive discomfort (like when your mom used to give you ginger ale).
- Rosemary – has a spasmolytic effect, meaning that it relaxes muscles and suppresses muscle spasms
- Peppermint – contains antispasmodic properties, which can relax the muscles in the digestive tract
- Lemon – reduces inflammation, which creates easier flow in the digestive system
- Marjoram – known to improve digestive function