Dietary fiber and the hormonal system
The hormonal balance can be disrupted for many reasons. The hormonal system works so cohesively, that when one hormone goes out of balance, other hormones will too. It’s a fact that nutrition plays a great role in achieving and maintaining hormonal balance. Here we will take up a very significant part of nutrition – the dietary fiber.
Intake of adequate amount of dietary fiber is necessary for proper hormonal function.
Dietary fiber have many positive effects on the body but here we are interested in these three:
• Normalizing blood sugar
• Lowering cortisol levels
• Flushing out excess estrogen
Though fiber is considered a carbohydrate, they are not broken down by the body and are not converted to sugar. Thus they don’t elevate blood sugar levels as other carbs do and they don’t cause insulin spikes.
Types of dietary fiber
There are two types of dietary fiber – soluble and insoluble.
Soluble dietary fiber dissolves in water and helps slow down the passage of food through the digestive system. This helps in digestion and absorption of food.
They are literally food for the good bacteria in the gut. When you take a probiotic, you are actually getting in some of the same good gut bacteria.
Soluble fiber is a PREBIOTIC, meaning it feeds the good gut bacteria (probiotics) and allow them to proliferate and be present in enough quantities needed to digest food, produce certain vitamins, strengthen the immune system…
They help lower blood sugar levels and thus insulin response, the hormone that converts sugars to fats and stores them.
Insoluble fiber can’t be dissolved in water. They help the passing of food through the stomach and the gut. They clean the intestines and help eliminate toxins out of the body. This fiber helps the body by binding the stool with water (if you drink enough water). Water softens the stool and eases its excretion.
Both types are necessary for proper nutrition and strong immune system.
Effect on hormones
Fiber not only help lower blood sugar but they help in maintaining its balance. Fiber rich food will help you feel satiated longer. This is important in lowering excess fat.
Fiber helps lower cortisol levels and this affects very positively all other hormones. It also helps against gaining fat as high cortisol levels lead to fat gain and that also leads to increased estrogen levels – hormonal chaos.
Adequate intake of fiber will contribute to eliminating the excess estrogen that directly disrupts the hormonal balance and that directly influences fat gain.
Fiber can be taken through many different foods. It is necessary to get both soluble and insoluble fiber.
It is important not to get too many carbohydrates in order to get your fiber. Like sugars for example.
The foods below that contain small amounts of carbs are marked with √.
Foods that contain soluble fiber (√ – we recommend):
• Flax seeds √
• Chia seeds √
• Cauliflower √
• Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries √
Foods that contain insoluble fiber (√ – we recommend):
• Dried fruits
• Broccoli, cabbage, cucumber √
• Celery √
• Garlic, onions, leeks √
• Whole grains (oats, barley, rice…)
• Nuts √
• Cauliflower √
• Seeds √
Daily intake of dietary fiber
It is best that you get fiber from different sources especially vegetables and nuts. Sudden intake of too much fiber can cause digestive difficulties and flatulence. Start lightly and gradually achieve amount of 40 grams intake of dietary fiber. For example, 100 grams of cabbage contains 3 grams of dietary fiber, 100 grams cucumber contains less than 1 gram fiber. Nuts contain around 8-10 grams dietary fiber and chia seeds contain 38 grams fiber in 100 grams of product. Dietary fiber can be bought as a powdered supplement as well.
One of the greatest mistakes you could do in nutrition, especially with the keto diet, is not getting enough vegetables. Not just because of the fiber but these are necessary to get the vitamins and especially the minerals like potassium, magnesium, calcium – which are a must on the keto diet.