Pregnant women often face hormone-induced conditions that greatly improve or completely resolve with the addition of fiber supplementation. Dr. Gleaton explains everything you need to know about fiber.
Only five percent of Americans consume the daily recommended amount of fiber in their diets. In fact, it takes an enormous amount of fruits, vegetables, and grains to achieve the recommended 25 grams of fiber for women and the 38 grams recommended for men. And while there’s no clear consensus on the best fiber supplement, there is zero debate regarding the significant health benefits of adding fiber to your diet. Let's explore why….
What is fiber?
Let’s travel down memory lane back to Nutrition 101. Fiber is the indigestible part of plant-based foods, including vegetables, fruits, grains, and legumes. It comes in two different forms: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber absorbs in water and aids digestion by improving nutrient absorption. Insoluble fiber does not absorb, but attracts water and increases the weight and size of stool, helping stool move through the intestines.
Benefits of fiber
Fiber, most often revered for constipation relief, offers a slew of benefits that can support a healthy lifestyle. The benefits include:
- Weight reduction: A 2017 meta- analysis, a large analysis of several smaller studies, showed that dieters who consumed 30 gms of fiber daily without any other restrictions lost more weight than dieters placed on restrictive diets excluding carbohydrates and sugar.
- Improved digestion: The good bacteria in your gut utilize fiber to absorb better and increase excretion of toxic substances.
- Reduced constipation: Fiber increases stool frequency.
- Improved cholesterol: Fiber accomplishes this, in part, by attaching to sugar and fats and clearing them with stool.
- Reduced cardiovascular disease (the number one killer of US adults!): Observational studies show that dietary fiber intake is associated with decreased risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Reduced blood sugar: A 2013 study showed high-fiber diets, dietary or supplements, reduced fasting glucose by 9.97 mg/dL.
How to consume fiber
Fiber is consumed through diet via foods or through supplementation.
Foods high in fiber
Remember the apple a day that kept the doctor away? Well if you’re thinking what I’m thinking, it was all due to the fiber! But apples aren’t the only excellent fiber source. Add these items to your next grocery list to ensure you’re covered:
- Fruits: Raspberries, bananas, pears, oranges, strawberries, figs
- Grains: Pasta, barley, bran flakes oatmeal, popcorn, brown rice
- Nuts and legumes: Split peas, lentils, black beans, lima beans
- Vegetables: Artichokes, peas, broccoli brussel sprouts, potatoes (skin-on), carrots
Why fiber supplementation is especially beneficial during pregnancy
Fiber has many benefits during pregnancy, including improved nutrient absorption and blood sugar levels. It also curtails excessive weight gain, relieves constipation, and helps avoid hemorrhoid formation.
What is the best fiber supplement for pregnancy?
With so many different types of fiber supplements on the market, it can be difficult to identify which supplement is best for you. When researching supplements, select one that's easily digested, with the fewest side effects, but effective. In addition, ensure the supplement you choose is made without additional preservatives, color, and artificial ingredients. Psyllium fiber has less gastrointestinal symptoms because it is nonfermenting. Natalist’s pregnancy-safe all-natural, plant-based fiber supplement is clinically-proven to relieve constipation, hemorrhoids, and support a healthy digestive system with minimal side effects.
Precautions to keep in mind when taking fiber supplements
It's important to consume adequate water while taking fiber supplementation, including six to eight ounces per day. In addition, ensure that your fiber supplement does not induce extra gas and stomach irritation due to the fermentation process caused by some types.
An essential component of a well-balanced diet
Fiber is an essential component of a well-balanced diet and offers various health benefits with few side effects or risks. Pregnant women often face many hormone-induced conditions that greatly improve or completely resolve with the addition of fiber supplementation. When considering which fiber supplement is best for you, look for one created with both you and your baby in mind.