As a nutrition consultant, I often hear this issue from people who go on a diet, particularly a low carb or a ketogenic diet. Despite my notes in their plans spelling it clearly – “FIBER IS IMPORTANT. DON’T MISS IT,” I always tend to get a panic call from them saying they are constipated since days. So, let’s look at how to wage a war against constipation!
Well, like I said, Fiber is Important!!
No, not just to clear your bowels and get rid of your constipation to give you a satisfied and active day post washroom in the morning, but also because of several other factors that can prove to be a blessing for your health. I’m sure that the following points will make you NOT miss your Isabgol (psyllium husk) and your green veggies from tonight onwards.
(Though along with fiber, your electrolyte balance is equally important to prevent constipation!
So don’t cut down on salt when you cut down on carbs while on a restricted diet. Have salt in normal amounts, and have your greens too, to make sure that you do not disrupt your electrolyte balance. A good way to do that would be to include 2-3 glasses of salted lemonade in the day.)
THE FIBER MAGIC!
Dietary fiber in your leafy vegetables and whole grains have many benefits apart from just getting rid of your constipation. What if I told you that optimum dietary fiber can help reduce:
- Risk of weight gain and fat gains in women according to this research
- Risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women according to this research
- Risk of Colo-rectal Cancer (A part of your large intestine, in layman words, a type of stomach cancer) according to this study
- Risk of small intestinal cancer according to this research
- Risk of coronary heart disease according to this research
- Inflammation (remember this – all diseases, catabolic as well as those causing physical discomfort, come from inflammation. So you want to avoid it and keep it at its minimum. Dietary fiber helps in reduction of serum C-reactive protein. At least this study says so!)
Well, that’s reason enough to go eat your greens right now! Or, simply make yourself a green smoothie!
But I’m not done yet…almost 80% people here want to lose fat right? Let’s talk a bit about that. Pardon me for talking Greek, but these are facts – Dietary fiber is believed and proven to decrease body weight, or prevent weight gain.
There are basically two reasons for this:
Firstly, when soluble fiber is fermented in the large intestine (yes, you read that right! Contrary to popular belief, fiber doesn’t remain intact throughout the digestive tract! Soluble fiber get dissolved, and undergoes chemical changes in the intestine), it produces glucagon like peptide (GLP1) and peptide YY (PYY). These two hormones play an important role in inducing satiety (feeling of fullness after eating.)
Secondly, inadequate intake of dietary fiber may significantly decrease energy levels, according to studies. That might be a very important reason for you to take optimum amount of fiber in your diet.
Lastly, (but certainly not the last item on the list of fiber’s benefits,) dietary fiber has also been seen to have inverse associations with occurrence of Type 2 diabetes. Reason enough for you to now reach out and gulp down that spinach smoothie! Whole grains, cereal fiber, and dietary magnesium aid in this. Here is the research that backs this claim – research article.
Well, fiber has always been stressed upon as a remedy for constipation. But now, you have a plethora of reasons not to frown upon your bowl of greens, or your glass of isabgol and water. Maintain about 30 gm of fiber every day in your diet from good sources like whole grains and green leafy vegetables, and you can supplement it with psyllium husk (Isabgol) if you are going low on carbs for your diet.
Main Sources of Fiber:
- Green leafy vegetables like Spinach, Cabbage, Lettuce, broccoli, artichokes, gourds, etc.
- Good carbohydrate sources and grains like brown rice, oats, barley, millet, quinoa, whole wheat, etc.
- Fruits and berries (Although limit your fruit intake to make sure you do not consume too much fructose.)
- Can be supplemented by psyllium husk.
So, what is the takeaway? Fiber is Good for your health! Go ahead! Educate the world!
Authored by:~Dev Biswas,
Nutrition Consultant, www.squats.in
Keenan H.A., Doria A., Aiello L.P., King G.L. Positivity of C-peptide, GADA and IA2 antibodies in type 1 diabetic patients with extreme duration. Diabetes. 2006;55:A65.