WEIGHT LOSS WEDNESDAYS: Talking Sh*t- Fiber and You

Last week we learned that the gut plays a large role in immunity.  Today, we’re going to learn about a different role that the gut has- in regulating your, um… intestinal traffic.  In digestion, you can think of your gut as sort of factory processing plant for the food that you eat.  As the food comes down the pipe, it takes the nutrients that your body needs and sends them to the different “departments” (i.e. tissues, organs, blood) where they are needed.  By the time most of the nutrient content has been stripped from your ingested food, it is usually in the large intestine, which serves as sort of a salvage yard for anything that’s left. It is within the large intestine that any remaining water is reclaimed, as well as fiber.  There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. As the names would suggest, one of them can be broken down or “dissolved” while the other cannot. They both have distinct roles in your digestion.

 

-Insoluble fiber:  commonly referred to as “roughage”, insoluble fiber passes mostly undigested through the gut and is found in things like celery, the skins of fruits, leafy greens like kale and the outsides of seeds like flax.

Why you care:  insoluble fiber adds stool bulk, making stools easier to pass and helping move things along at a faster rate- aka fights constipation

-Soluble fiber: attracts water, turning into a gel within the gut and slowing down digestion. Soluble fiber is found in foods such as apples and pears, oat bran, nuts and seeds. That goopy stuff around chia seeds when you add water? Yeah. That’s soluble fiber. Fun fact: basil seeds do this too, and taste just as lovely and aromatic as the plant they produce. You can find them in bulk online. 

Why you care: while soluble fiber also provides stool bulk, its main function is to hold onto water, helping you “grease the pipes” and make stools soft, and easy to pass- basically the crème de la crème of poops.

 

Therefore, in a normally functioning gut, the ideal balance would be a diet containing both fiber types as well as water. However, this is ONLY in a normally functioning gut. If you are prone to diarrhea, you might need to concentrate on soluble fiber to slow things down a bit- eating oatmeal and snacking on fruit in the morning can help things move more smoothly throughout the day.

 

WLW Tip Of The Week:  Eat a diet high in fiber to promote effective digestion and elimination