With the rise of gluten-free diets, many gluten-free, store-bought foods are heavy in starches and flours and nearly devoid of nutrient density, most especially fiber.
Fiber is essential for optimal digestion. Remember, if your gut isn’t happy, then neither is the rest of your body! There are plenty of natural, whole foods to incorporate into your diet to make up for what you aren’t getting through the gluten grains. You want to aim for at least 25grams of fiber per day.
Here are the basics:
Soluble fiber acts like a sponge and attracts water. It slows down the emptying of the stomach, which helps keep you full longer. Some great sources of soluble fiber include: oatmeal, lentils, beans, sweet potatoes, blueberries, cucumbers, and nuts.
Insoluble fiber is more like a scrub brush. It does not easily absorb water. Insoluble fiber adds to the overall bulk of the stool, allowing your food to move easily for proper elimination. Foods that can be added are dark leafy greens, celery, beets, Brussel sprouts, and cabbage.
Resistance starches are yet another type of fiber, less well known than the other two. These are starches that are resistant to digestion. They act much like soluble fiber and pass through the small intestine into the large intestine where they feed on friendly bacteria. Plantains are an excellent source of resistance starch as are unripe bananas.
A few benefits of fiber:
- Regular, formed bowel movements. Whether it is bulking up your stool for easier transit or absorbing water to alleviate constipation, all fiber helps with digestion.
- Improve blood sugar levels. Soluble fiber has been shown to slow down the absorption of sugar in the bloodstream, therefore improving blood sugar levels. Adding insoluble fiber may help reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and balance blood sugars if you already have it.
- Aids in healthy weight loss. Remember, fiber increases the feeling of being full. High-fiber foods are more energy dense, which means less calories in a similar serving of food that is lower in fiber.
Now for my favorites!
Oatmeal– I have recently reintroduced grains back into my diet and I forgot how much I love oatmeal. I like whole oats but when I am in a hurry, Bob’s Red Mill organic rolled oats do the trick. I cook them in coconut milk instead of water and add various toppings. My favorite is adding 1 tbsp. hemp hearts, 1 tbsp. almond flour, a handful of raisins, and topping it off with a handful of toasted pumpkin seeds!!
(Oatmeal has roughly 4 grams fiber per cup. 2 tbsp. of pumpkin seeds add 4 more.)
Raspberry Almond Flour Muffins– I exclusively use almond flour for all of my baking. ¼ cup provides 3 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein…and that’s pretty amazing!! I tweaked a recipe that I found and made these muffins! Who says gluten-free cooking has to be hard? (Recipe here)
Plantain and Black Bean Tacos– I was introduc