By Elizabeth Overstreet, BlackDoctor.org
You probably already know the importance of ensuring you get enough fiber in your diet. Fiber intake affects all of your body systems, including your skin, gallbladder, heart and immunity. But, if you lack fiber intake, it can have a detrimental effect on your health. When you don’t have enough fiber in your diet, the toxins you eliminate via your bowels get absorbed back into your bloodstream causing health issues.
But, this is only one part of how having a healthy fiber intake helps you. It also helps improve the functioning of your gastrointestinal system, which is responsible for more than half of your body’s immune system. It’s important to know if you lack fiber and what you can do to make sure you get enough fiber.
You should take in 20 to 40 grams of fiber daily, but most Americans only eat 8 grams. Here are some signs that you are not getting enough fiber in your diet:
- You constantly feel bloated. Bloating is caused by gas and certain foods. These include processed foods, alcohol, dairy and carbonated beverages to name a few. Fiber helps to offset these items by eliminating them from your body.
Fiber Fix: Include fiber throughout the day in each meal. When eating breakfast add fruit such as raspberries or strawberries. You can add some greens to your smoothie. Add beans or salsa instead of hash browns. At lunchtime, eat legume-based soups or look for salads that use whole grains, such as barley and add in mixed greens. For dinner, start your meal with a salad. If you are sautéing your veggies, add garlic and onion. Instead of eating starchy items as your sides, replace them with legumes or vegetables such as zucchini which is high in fiber.
- You are constipated or have irregularity in your bowel movements. Fiber helps to eliminate stools and toxins from your body which means your colon is working efficiently. If you are constipated this means your fiber intake is too low. If you have a healthy colon, you will have regular, frequent and soft bowel movements. If you eat foods low in fiber, they take longer to digest, lead to irregular bowel movements, loose stools and can also cause stomach pain.
Fiber Fix: Have you heard of the chia seed? These seeds are packed with fiber. You can add them to your smoothie, cereal, oatmeal, yogurt or cooked kale. The benefit of this powerful seed is that it helps you have more regularity in removing your bowels. Also, pay attention to what you are drinking, too. As you increase your fiber intake, drink plenty of water or else you can run into the problem of having too much fiber which can also lead to constipation. You can also drink peppermint tea twice daily. Some other foods which can help give you healthy amounts of fiber include whole-grain cereals, apples, bananas, and spinach.
- You are gaining more weight. Fiber helps you to regulate your blood sugar and bind the starches in your body. It also helps you to manage your weight because carbs are broken down easier when enough fiber is in your body. It also helps you maintain a healthy blood sugar so you can avoid diseases like diabetes.
Fiber Fix. Snack smart. Peppermint tea and crackers with peanut butter or jam can be used instead of a sugary snack. Other options for snacks can be almonds, pistachios, walnuts or pumpkin seeds or simply a piece of fruit.
- You have little energy. If you are only eating protein and fat, it can cause you to feel weak or fatigued. You also need carbohydrates to keep your body running. Fiber balances out your diet by giving you energy throughout the day, but also eliminates waste from your body versus foods that are high in fat.
- Your thinking feels foggy. When you are not eating enough fiber, you may crave sweet things to want to feel full. But, while you may have an initial surge of energy after eating something sugary, sweets cause instability in the blood sugar and also affect your ability to concentrate or have clear thinking.
Fiber Fix: Instead of grabbing the sweets try almond butter on top of sliced bananas or apples.
- Bad skin.Since skin is our largest organ, it often provides clues about what is happening to your body and if you have a deficiency. Since fiber eliminates toxins from your body, if this is not going on, you will be prone to having dull and acne prone skin.
Fiber Fix: Make sure you are eating plenty of fruit and probiotics to keep you skin and gut healthy. And again, drink plenty of water.
- Your blood pressure increases. When you eat a diet rich in fiber, it can help to reduce your blood pressure. If your blood pressure is out of whack, some signs include headaches, chest pain and tiredness among others. If others in your family have a history of hypertension, be proactive in your fiber intake to help you prevent this from happening to you.
Fiber Fix: Beans and salads are your allies to offset increased high blood pressure. Add beans to your salads or pasta to increase your fiber intake.
Increasing fiber in your diet helps you to be healthier in more ways than one. It has a direct impact on all of your body’s systems operating together in harmony. If you are suffering from one of the symptoms noted above, make sure you start to incorporate fiber into your diet on a daily basis. By doing so, your body will be thankful for the changes and benefits fiber offers you.