Diet: Food – Fiber

Wow, my 150th post.  Almost half a year of daily posts.  I tell you, it’s felt like climbing a great big fucking mountain posting original material every single day, a dangerous mountain filled with bears of writer’s block, moose of bad humor and mountain lions of . . . scariness.  I never thought I would be able to keep the blog going this long, but that’s mostly because I never thought I’d live this long.  So let me take a deep breath and gaze upon my journey thus far.

Okay, so it’s not as impressive as a full year of daily posts, but I’m still proud.  I’m doing my damnedest to touch, educate and entertain you, my faithful and most beautiful readers, and I’m going to try to continue to do so for as long as I can and on a regular basis.
And speaking of being regular . . .Fiber.  Nature’s broom.  The supreme diuretic.  The intestinal Heave-Ho.  The stomach’s eject button.  The place where time and toilet converge.  The noble betrayer.  The noisy elephant.

I'll admit, I made some of those up.

More than any other food on my list of necessities, fiber is the one that is usually the most misunderstood because it causes us to poop and pooping is something not everyone is comfortable with talking about in polite conversation.

" . . . and I was pushing so hard, I burst a blood vessel in my eye . . ."

I should probably put down the pictures and start writing.  Besides the pooping, the biggest reason people don’t get fiber is because we’re not taught what fiber really is.  Do you know what fiber looks like?  When I say the word fiber, the picture that probably forms in your mind is a bran muffin, or maybe some prunes, or perhaps a chunk of dead, dried wood.  For me, it was the one scene in “Ace Venture: Pet Detective” where Ace is confronted by his landlord and asked why he has all this pet food if he doesn’t have animals in his apartment.  To which Ace replies, “Fiber.”  You can see how this image of fiber being pet food made me kind of want to run away from the stuff as fast as I could, but you can’t run from fiber because the truth is much larger than all of those examples.

Fiber is the portion of plants that our bodies can not digest.  Our digestive systems lack the enzymes that would break down fiber and turn it into energy, and so fiber either speeds through our system or just takes a seat for awhile in our tummies.  This means that every time you eat something that was grown from a seed buried in the earth, you are eating fiber.  All (ALL) fruits, vegetables, raw grains and seeds have fiber in them.  When you think of it like this, you’ll realize people have been trying to get you to eat fiber your entire life, you just didn’t know it.  But what have I said?  This weight-loss thing has to start with understanding, so here is a crash course to help you get to know fiber.

Fiber = Carbohydrates

I hate to tell all you low-carb nuts out there, but all the plants and fruits you eat are primarily made up of carbohydrates, the difference being that the carbs in all those plants are fiber.  The good news is that since fiber can not be absorbed by our bodies like other carbs it can not be stored as fat.  But this also means your body can’t convert fiber into energy, so you’re still going to need that piece of bread.

There are Two Kinds of Fiber

Much like there are two kinds of carbohydrates (simple and complex), there are also two kinds of fiber, and each is important.  The first, and the kind that we think of when talking about fiber, is insoluble fiber.  These kinds of fiber do not soak up any water while they are in your body, which means they just pass right on through your system taking anything in its way along with it.  This is the so-called “Nature’s Broom”, and it adds bulk to your stool while at the same time making it softer so it’s easy to pass.

Passing one of these is no fun. TRUST ME.

But it’s not just about “making you regular” as the process also helps clean out your colon and any gunk that may have been sitting there for who knows how long.  Sources high in insoluble fiber include whole grains, wheat, corn, nuts, seeds, potato and tomato skins, and most green vegetables.  Consuming these on a regular basis will not only help keep you healthy and your system clear, but is will also make that  most dirtiest of dirty acts that we all must do everyday be as smooth and comfortable as possible.

Listen, I’m sorry, I tried, but there is literally no metaphor or simile, no adjectives, that I could have used that would not have been rendered absolutely disgusting in the previous sentence.

The other kind of fiber is soluble fiber, and this stuff is amazing.  Unlike it’s speedy brother, soluble fiber does soak up water, which causes it to turn into this sticky jelly-like substance that moves slowly through our system.  It is the tortoise to insoluble fiber’s hare, and it definitely wins the race of benefits.  It can help prevent cardiovascular disease, lowers cholesterol and may help prevent certain cancers (the gut and the booty kind of cancers).  But its biggest benefit is that because it is sticky and moves so slowly through our system, it changes the way our body absorbs minerals and other nutrients, most prominently glucose (sugar).  By slowing the rate at which our bodies absorb sugar, soluble fiber helps regulate the glucose and insulin levels in your blood, and can fight off diabetes.  Foods that are high in soluble fiber are oatmeal, broccoli, legumes, root vegetables such as sweet potatoes and onions, and many fruits including bananas and apples.

Fiber is an Ultimate Diet Food

No matter which kind it is, eating fiber provides one enormous benefit to people trying to lose weight in that it helps increase food volume without adding to your caloric intake.  In layman’s terms, it helps fill you up without making you fatter.  A bowl of oatmeal, albeit taken plain, will fill up your stomach without loading you up with calories.  It’s why eating salads while losing weight is so good: it will sate your appetite while providing a ton of nutrients while not expanding your waistline.  And just to sweeten the package even more, soluble fiber actually slows the emptying of the stomach, letting you feel full for a longer period of time.  Add some protein which also increases food volume without adding too many calories to the party, like chicken, and you’ll be punching anyone in the face trying to offer you seconds.

"I said, 'I don't want any more of your delicious food'!"

So eat it up, people.  Your inner elephant wants to get noisy.

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2 thoughts on “Diet: Food – Fiber

  1. Nic, I love your posts. You crack me up. I’m super proud of you for sticking to the daily grind of finding new material for your posts. You know what I think? You have a career in cuisine… somehow. Not sure what. I’d definitely hire you to cook for me if you lived here. Keep up the great work, guy.

    • Thanks so much! As long as one person likes this blog, I’ll keep at it. And if I’m ever in your neighborhood (or you in mine), I’ll cook up something delicious. It’ll be like this blog, but in 3-D! Have a great Christmas!

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