Fiber has been deemed the end all be all when it comes to weight loss, staying full, and cleaning out your gut. But, is there a difference between eating natural fiber and added unnatural fiber? Do you even know where natural fiber comes from? Fiber is an important addition to any diet, but it's important to get it from the right sources.
Unnatural fiber may appear as inulin, chicory root, maltodextrin, and polydextrose. You may also think of supplements such as Metamucil, Citrucel, and FiberCon. All of these don't contain vitamins or nutrients with the fiber that is added, which kind of defeats the purpose of eating the fiber.
Like I have said ad nauseam, you want nutrient dense foods! Unnatural fiber can cause gassiness, abdominal bloating, cramping, and throw off the natural bacteria in your gut. Eating unnatural fiber is like using oils instead of just eating the actual food. There is barely any nutritional value to it and the benefits aren't equal.
Natural fiber comes from plants (vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds, and oats). Fiber is what helps to hold up the plant, kind of like bones for a plant. The highest plants with fiber are broccoli, brussels sprouts, beans, nuts, peas, artichokes, blackberries, blueberries, and oats. Fiber from plants helps to lower cholesterol, improve bowel movements, control blood sugar levels, reduces the risk for type two diabetes, reduces the risk of heart disease, leaves you feeling fuller, has fewer calories, and take longer to digest (aiding in obtaining a proper weight).
Your body cannot actually break down fiber in the body so it doesn't get absorbed into your blood stream. The entire plant is important in obtaining all of these benefits, this is not just specific to fiber, however fiber is a crucial part of the plants.
How do guarantee that you are getting enough fiber from the right sources? Eat plenty of fresh plants! You want to make sure you are getting a minimum of 25g of fiber daily. 1 cup of broccoli gets you 2.4g, 1/2 cup of hummus has 7.5g, 1 cup of green peas has 7g, 1 cup of sweet potato has 4g, and 1 cup of quinoa has 17-27g. If you made a buddha bowl with all of those ingredients then you would get more than the minimum of fiber daily. You could also have a bowl of oatmeal with bananas and walnuts and you would get 12g of fiber. When in doubt, just add more plants!