We all have heard the word “fiber” thrown around and may know that it is generally good for us, but may not know the specifics of why. Statistics show that 95% of people don’t get enough fiber (men 38g/day, women 25g/day). Not only is it critical for everyday health, fiber and skin health are more closely connected than you would think. Below is a full look at the types of fiber, their benefits, how they play a role in skin health and where to find fiber in foods and/or supplements.
What is Fiber
Fiber is actually a carbohydrate found in plant foods that plays a critical role in our digestion and detoxification processes. Fiber can be broken down into two general categories: soluble and insoluble.
Soluble fiber can be dissolved with water and become a gel-like substance wither several specific benefits:
- Reduces hunger because it swells when in contact with water
- Feeds the good gut bacteria
- Supports the immune system
- Stabilizes blood sugar levels through lower sugar and carbohydrate absorption
- Lowers fat absorption often leading to weight loss
Insoluble fiber is usually found in the skins of fruits, in grains and nuts. This type of fiber cannot be absorbed by the body and has benefits of its own:
- Prevents constipation
- Binds to toxins and bile that need to be eliminated
How fiber benefits skin health
Increases absorption of nutrients and minerals
Collagen supplements, Vitamin C supplements and antioxidants have become staples in the diets of many to improve skin health. Unfortunately, many of these minerals and nutrients cannot be properly absorbed without adequate amounts of fiber. Ensuring you are consuming recommended amounts of fiber each day allows your body to absorb the maximum amount of any other nutrients you consume throughout the day.
Helps the body eliminate toxins
Each day our liver is working hard to eliminate the toxins our body is bombarded with through the foods we eat (pesticides, synthetic dyes, chemicals), the products we use in our home and on our bodies, and environmental toxins. Much of these toxins are caught up in the bile our liver produces which then binds to fiber and is excreted from the body.
Without enough fiber, however, this bile is reabsorbed into the body increasing our toxic load and systemic inflammation. Inflammation is a major factor in numerous skin concerns including acne, psoriasis and eczema. Proper fiber intake aids the body in eliminating toxic bile and keeping inflammation under control.
Supports Gut Health
Fiber feeds the good bacteria in our bodies which helps prevent the overgrowth of bad bacteria which can lead to inflammation, candida, SIBO, etc. The increase in good bacteria leads to a host of benefits including a strengthened immune system, reduced inflammation, and reduced oxidative stress.
Whole-Food Sources of Fiber
- cooked navy beans (1/2 cup contains 9.5 g)
- 100 percent ready-to-eat bran (1/2 cup contains 8.8 g)
- canned kidney beans (1/2 cup contains 8.2 g)
- cooked split peas (1/2 cup contains 8.1 g)
- cooked lentils (1/2 cup contains 7.8 g)
- cooked pinto/black beans (1/2 cup contains 7.8/7.5 g)
- cooked artichoke (one whole artichoke contains 6.5 g)
- cooked white beans/chickpeas/great northern beans (1/2 cup contains 6.3-6.2 g)
- mature soybeans (1/2 cup cooked contains 5.2 g)
- plain rye wafers or crackers (2 crackers contain 5.0 g)
- baked sweet potato with the peel (1 medium potato contains 4.8 g)
- raw pear or Asian pear (1 small pear contains 4.3-4.4 g)
- cooked green peas (1/2 cup contains 4.4 g)
- whole wheat English muffin/bread (1 muffin or 2 slices contains 4.4 g)
- cooked bulgur wheat (1/2 cup contains 4.1 g)
- raw raspberries (1/2 cup contains 4.0 g)
- boiled sweet potato without the peel (1 medium potato contains 3.9 g)
- baked potato with the peel (1 medium potato contains 3.8 g)
- stewed prunes (1/2 cup contains 3.8 g)
- dried figs or dates (1/2 cup contains 3.7-3.8 g)
- raw oat bran (1/2 cup contains 3.6 g)
- canned pumpkin (1/2 cup contains 3.6 g)
- cooked spinach (1/2 cup contains 3.5 g)
- shredded ready-to-eat wheat cereals (1 ounce contains 2.8-3.4 g)
- raw almonds (1 oz. contains 3.3 g)
- raw apple with the skin (1 medium apple includes 3.3 g)
- cooked whole wheat spaghetti (1/2 cup contains 3.1 g)
- raw banana or orange (1 fruit contains 3.1 g)