What is it?
For plants, fiber is part of the architecture that gives leaves, stalks, twigs, fruits, seeds, and roots their shape and strength. And it’s sort of the same for humans who eat dietary fiber, because fiber is so important for your body’s shape and health.
Fiber is an essential plant nutrient that aids digestive function, feeds healthy gut microbes, and helps the body get rid of waste. Dietary fiber comes in two basic types — soluble and insoluble. You could think of soluble fiber as the spongy part of a scouring sponge, and insoluble fiber as the scrubby part.
Where is it from?
Great sources of dietary fiber include some incredibly tasty and appetite-satisfying foods! Some good examples include beans, lentils, peas, whole grains, oat and wheat brans, nuts, seeds (especially flaxseeds), berries, apples, and pears.
Buckwheat — a cereal not related to wheat and containing NO gluten — is a fiber jackpot. Cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts, along with fibrous veg like pumpkin, squash, carrots, celery root, burdock root, turnips, rutabagas, pumpkin, squash, and plantains, as well as fibrous fruit like mangoes, citrus fruits, papaya, and quince are also pretty good. Chicory, carob, chestnuts, and cocoa are, too.
What does it do?
Inside the intestines, fiber grabs onto toxins, cholesterol, cell garbage, and other waste, chaperoning them out of the body.
Unlike us, the beneficial microbes in our gut microbiome are able to break down fiber and use it for energy to power up their good work.
As long as you get enough fiber each day (more on this below), it helps optimize the way your body uses carbs for energy — and protects against common conditions like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
In prehistoric times, humans ate a LOT more whole and unprocessed foods, and got a LOT more dietary fiber. Some researchers estimate that we used to get over 100 grams of fiber each day — but now the average person gets less than 15 grams a day, and adults really need, at minimum, 25-30 grams daily.
In modern times, our environment has higher levels of toxins and pollution, and our diets have more highly-processed foods rich in carbs and fats. Our bodies have a big challenge sorting out the unhealthy things that make it inside our bodies, and consuming more dietary fiber is one of the most reliable ways to help you look, feel, and live healthy.