By Holistic Nutritionist, Elissa Goodman.
We’ve all had those moments. You eat too much fiber and suddenly your stomach is tangled up in cramps and your whole body feels like an embarrassing moment waiting to happen. For years the food industry pushed fiber as a crucial part of a healthy diet. While you need to avoid those processed, sugar-laden fiber bars food companies want you to consume, fiber is still an incredible and important addition to your diet.
Kris Carr wrote a great article about living in harmony with high-fiber foods and I wanted to share some of her points, as well as my own, with you.
What is fiber? And why do you need it?
Fiber is the roughage part of veggies, fruits, beans, grains, nuts and seeds that your body can’t digest or absorb. While fiber is not digestible, it is a great way to help your body digest and pass the foods we eat. It clears out the digestive system and takes toxins, cholesterol, waste and extra hormones with it.
Fiber also supports a strong immune system, proper colon health, intestinal bacterial balance, a faster metabolism, weight control, diabetes prevention and cardiovascular disease prevention. It also feeds the good probiotic bacteria in your gut, and I strongly believe that a healthy gut is the start of all health.
How much fiber do you need?
Most Americans are not getting enough fiber. On average, women get 12-14 grams per day and men get 16-18 grams per day. For disease prevention, the rule of thumb is 14 grams of fiber per every 1000 calories consumed. For men, this means at least 35 grams per day and for women, at least 25 grams per day.
Look at your diet – you are probably not getting enough fiber. But if these numbers make you concerned about the gas and indigestion that can come with added fiber, don’t worry. I’ve shared here how to add fiber into your diet while calming your digestion and preventing the gas and indigestion that can come with it:
1. Ease into fiber. Adding too much fiber too fast is the fastest way to pain and bloating. It can take nearly a month to really accustom your body to a high-fiber diet. Start by adding 5 grams of fiber every 3 days. Add in a large serving of veggies or 1/3 cup of cooked beans or lentils. Once your body feels comfortable with that, add another 5 grams. If you feel discomfort, scale back and try again in a few days. Keep going in this pattern until your body feels like it can handle all the fiber you need!
2. Drink lots of water. You should be doing this anyway, but staying hydrated is crucial when adding in more fiber to your diet. When you’re dehydrated, the body pulls water from your food waste, and let’s just say that makes it not so comfortable when your body has to eliminate that solid waste. You should be drinking half your body weight in ounces daily.
3. Find the right balance. Your body digests soluble and insoluble fiber differently. Insoluble fiber has more of a laxative effect so if your body is feeling gassy and bloated, it’s likely from too much soluble fiber. Try replacing some of the soluble fiber (found in beans, lentils, split-peas, berries, chia seeds, oat and flax) with insoluble fiber (found in veggies, fruit and brown rice) to help get things moving quicker.
4. Add seaweed to beans. A great way to help beans become easier on the digestive system is to soak them overnight or for a few hours before cooking them. Another great trick is, after soaking them, drain the water and add fresh water and a strip of dried kombu seaweed to the beans. It contains enzymes that will help with the breakdown of the gas-causing elements in beans.
5. Cut out high-fat and fried foods. Fat slows stomach emptying and can increase gas and bloating. If you are suffering from gas and bloating, even reducing healthy fats such as olive oil, avocados, nut and seeds can help you identify the culprit.
6. Chew slowly! The less gas you consume, the less gas that has to get out. It’s as simple as that. On that note, also avoid carbonated beverages and gum.
7. Add ginger. Ginger relieves gas, aids in digestion and helps with nausea. Add it wherever you can to help ease any symptoms you may be feeling.
8. Get probiotic heavy. Probiotics are crucial for restoring proper gut health and easing digestion. I recommend taking a daily probiotic as well as adding in probiotic foods such as miso, kefir, tempeh and kim chee. Have you tried my probiotic coconut kefir yet?
9. Get moving. Exercise is so important in the digestive process. Cardio strengthens your digestive muscles, raising your heart rate increases intestinal speed and yoga can increase blood flow to the digestive tract.
10. Add aloe vera. When my clients or cleansers are having trouble with digestion and bloating, I always recommend George’s Aloe Vera. It’s a great way to support your digestive and immune system and help alleviate those cramps and discomfort.
Adding any new food and playing with your diet is always a great way to take the opportunity to pay attention to what you system is telling you. Don’t push it to the point where you feel sick. Ease into it, listen to your gut and just know that sometimes even some healthy foods aren’t for you. Every body is different.
Hi Jessica, I believe in synchronicity so when I was guided to you .on FB I was intrigued and inspired. I turned 46 last week and my husband bought me your book. I wanted to thank you for sharing your wisdom in such a beautifully presented way. My copy is now filled with tabs and post it notes with actual notes throughout. I am dairy intolerant since having my gallbladder removed 15+ years ago, I don't eat meat, very minimal gluten and was told 12 months ago my gut was not digesting my food properly so I wasn't receiving sufficient nutrients and taking supplements would be a waste of time. My weight fluctuates tending to gain rather than lose but now I believe I have a tool to help me bring my body back into balance that I need for my health and longevity of life - so again thank you. The first few steps to creating a stronger path forward for my health has found its foundation in your beautiful book, The Healthy Life.
With kindest regards Samantha
I'm writing this email because I wanted to tell you how much I love your blog and how you really helped me in my health journey. Thank you for sharing all your advices and experiences.
When I started my studies, I was drinking lots of coffee and I was eaten the wrong foods, and feel bad about it, I wasn't at my best. So I had done some research on the net but at first I didn't found advices that are for me, and then I found your blog. It was exactly what I was looking for, good advices and healthy recipes. Now I'm following your advices on rest more, and snacks between meals and prep the meals and take time for myself to reconnect with my body and let go my anxiety, etc, and I have a more balanced life and have a new relationship with food thanks to you.
I bought your book and it's honestly the best book I have ever bought. I suffer from IBS and anxiety. I have paid so much money seeing naturopaths however after reading your book and all of your tips I'm noticing so much of a difference, so simple and easy to follow. And symptoms have dramatically decreased. Also you have helped me to relax. Currently drinking the protein health smoothie! Thankyou your amazing.
Hey Jessica! I haven’t yet brought ‘The Healthy Life’, but I do have the clean life and your slim down plan! I would like to thank you so much for the knowledge your share and the message you put across about health and wellness. I’m studying Nutritional Medicine in Melbourne and absolutely love the philosophy that you share with your JSHealth community. The work you’ve done to show people that leading a healthy lifestyle isn’t boring, tasteless, difficult or depriving is amazing and hope to share the message myself one day. You’ve inspired me to start my own blog , to share the message and have taught me so many things about my own health! You should be proud of your achievements! Thank you again
I searched for help and tips through the Internet and found Jessica Sepel. This is seriously not exaggerated, but she was the reason why I have dared myself to eat again, to have snacks in between, to nourish my body. I could slowly improve my negative thoughts about my body image and my stupid anxiety of gaining weight. Besides, The Cleanest Gut was awesome too! A huge thank you! Especially from my mum. Seriously, without you I wouldn’t be where I am now!
Congratulations on your new book! It looks absolutely gorgeous. I’ve been following you on Instagram for a few years and you’ve inspired me to slowly but surely eat healthier without giving myself a hard time when I don’t. It made me so happy (and weirdly proud) to see the Daily Mail article on The Healthy Life. I remember trying out your recipes before you even had your eBook out! I can’t wait to get my hands on the book. Keep up the great work.
Cooking in this way truly brought out the foodie in me and has instilled a huge passion for health and wellness! Life throws you hard and frustrating things sometimes but I truly believe that this is where we learn more about ourselves and what our passions in life are! Thank you for inspiring me on my journey to health and wellness!
I am a yoga teacher in Johannesburg and am thrilled to have bought your book today. I love making healthy, nutritious food for my family, friends and fellow yogis! Thank you for this book and your inspiration (had to share a pic of my book on my recipe stand in the kitchen).
I bought your beautiful book during the week and told my bestie to go out and buy it also! I love love love it. It is the book I would give to my younger self if I could (I am 41 years old). Everything is just so sensible and informative and is definitely a book all teenagers should have. This should be a text book for girls becoming teens. I will love going back and re-reading it many many times and can't wait to make more of the recipes. Thank you Jess - you are an incredibly inspiring woman and you should feel so proud
My fiancé bought your book and we have cooked some of your meals. Amazing! I love your outlook on a healthy lifestyle and your hints and tips with preparing tasty meals are fantastic. Thanks for reviving us to live a healthier lifestyle and get our bodies wedding ready.
I want to empower you to make good choices, every day. I want you to enhance your understanding of health and nutrition. I'm committed to making sure you live the best life. Because you deserve it. Are you ready to start feeling great?
Let me know your email address so I can send you an eBook '7 Days on my plate' - a little gift from me to you!