There’s a specific key component that should be part of every meal. Lucky for us, nature has already skillfully pre-packaged it in a cornucopia of vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds. The magic ingredient? Fiber.
What is fiber & why is it good for us?
Dietary fiber is the part of plant foods that can’t be digested. (For a quick list of fiber-rich foods see “Fiber foods” below.) If we don’t eat enough fiber, toxins such as preservatives, pesticides, artificial flavors/colors, etc. become more concentrated in our bodies, which in turn can lead to all sorts of inflammatory diseases including an increase in fat storage.
Your digestive system handles all carbs in the same way- by breaking them down into single sugar molecules so they are small enough to absorb into the bloodstream. Fiber is an exception because it can’t be broken down into sugar molecules and as a result passes through the body undigested. You do need adequate fiber in your diet, and its non-digestible quality doesn’t pose a problem for your body. It’s actually beneficial due to the fact that fiber forms a tight bond with bile in our intestines, soaking up harmful toxins, cholesterol and fat on its way out. Think of it as a cleansing workout for your digestive tract since fiber cannot be absorbed by the intestinal wall.
Foods that are naturally high in fiber are precisely the foods that are high in phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. But there’s a bonus! Fiber-rich diets also support weight loss and decrease the accumulation of undesirable visceral fat (that spare tire around your midsection). They tend to be lower-glycemic foods too- the kind that naturally support steady energy and good weight management. Great news for your push-ups & pull-ups! When we weigh less, it’s much easier to get moving, lifting, bounding, leaping, inverting and playing when working out. Your strength will seem multiplied when you have less body weight, making the classes you attend at Studiomix even more fun.
Keeping immunity strong this winter
Dietary fiber also plays a vital role in improving the effectiveness of our digestive system, which contains more than half the body’s immune system. Fiber from your leafy greens travel through the upper digestive tract and enter the large intestine, or colon, to serve as fuel for the friendly bacteria living there. These “prebiotic” fibers help friendly bacteria, known as “probiotics” grow and triumph over bad bugs in the colon. Fiber feeds good bacteria, so a lack of fiber actually kills the good bacteria in your gut.
Given fiber’s multiple benefits, it’s clear that many of us practice misguided nutritional math- counting quantity (calories) of our food rather than quality (the nutrient density). Instead of trying to adjust calorie intake for improved health, fat loss and/or muscle gain, concentrate on adding vitamin, mineral and fiber rich foods to each meal.
The best part? You can see and feel the results from eating more fiber almost immediately, possibly even the same day! You’ll notice more sustained energy, less moodiness and feel satisfied from a balanced meal longer.
Eat your veggies
Your mom has always told you what science has known for decades: “You gotta eat your vegetables.” Fiber-rich foods like vegetables are good for us, and many experts have observed that as people in other cultures have given up their traditional diets and adopted Western eating habits (dominated by processed foods much lower in fiber and higher in sugar), they’ve become susceptible to weight gain and a host of illnesses.
In addition, a whirlwind of recent studies have shown that fiber-rich foods enhance health in our bodies by regulating blood-sugar levels, reducing the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, a multitude of cancers and gastrointestinal disorders such as reflux, duodenal ulcer, irritable bowel and diverticulitis (inflammation of abnormal pouches in the wall of the large intestine or colon), and more. The evidence to eat your veggies is pretty compelling.
Detoxing- juice or blend?
Now that you’re convinced to include more fresh, whole plants into your diet, what’s the best way to go about it? Turning them into something drinkable is a popular option with the current juicing and blending craze. Let’s break it down!
Juicing is a process of grinding or pressing fruits and vegetables to extract water and nutrients, then discarding the fiber. Without all the fiber, your digestive system doesn’t have to work as hard to break down food and absorb nutrients. In fact, it makes the nutrients more readily available to the body in much larger quantities than if you were to eat fruits and vegetables whole. When you remove fiber from produce, the liquid juice is absorbed into your bloodstream quickly. This is why juicing is often referred to as a nutrient express.
Juicing may be helpful if you have a sensitive digestive system or illness that inhibits your body from processing fiber. Freshly squeezed vegetable juices are the cornerstone of most cleansing and detoxification programs because they are nutrient rich and nourish and restore our bodies at a cellular level. However, if you are only juicing fruits, a rapid spike in blood sugar occurs. These unstable blood sugar levels can lead to mood swings, energy loss, memory problems and more. So be sure to include your veggies in the mix for a optimal nourishment.
Unlike juices, blending the entire fruit or vegetable- skin and all- retains all of the fiber from the foods you use. The blending process breaks the fiber apart which makes it easier to digest and also helps create a slow, even release of nutrients into the bloodstream avoiding blood sugar spikes and crashes. By keeping the fiber in blended drinks, the volume will increase, leaving us satisfied after a meal. Alternatively, when the fiber is removed from food, it’s common to quickly experience hunger again.
Simple carbs (think sugar = fruit juice) are digested very quickly which cause a surge in the hormone insulin, creating an intense but brief sugar high followed by a crash. Complex carbs (fiber = blended fruit and veggie juices) on the other hand take longer to digest and are usually packed with vitamins and minerals. Remember, when the food we eat takes longer to digest, we experience more sustained mood, energy and hormones levels.
For a delicious, blended meal high in fiber and nutrients, check out our partner, Green Surge. The Green Surge experience allows for quick and easy detoxification while enjoying the freshest greens, fruits and vegetables of the season. Green Surge conveniently delivers to Studiomix when you place your custom order.
Real, whole foods are your best source for dietary fiber. Look for these foods below to get your fiber fix, and aim for 6-10 servings a day from a variety sources:
• dried beans
• oat bran
• rice bran
• most vegetables (including leafy greens, cabbage, beets, carrots, brussels sprouts, turnips, cauliflower)
• most fruits (including citrus fruits, strawberries, blueberries, pears, apple pulp and apple skin)
• whole grains (including wheat, rye, rice, barley and most other grains)
• wheat bran
Meditation is an ancient tradition that might make you think of bald monks sitting peacefully on a remote mountain top. Yet it’s a hot topic among a surprising cross-section of contemporary high-achievers. Everyone from NFL players, to hedge fund managers, and top tech talent is looking to meditation to help them be their best. Why? Because it’s an incredibly effective way to deal with stress, increase energy and focus, and help shift your mindset – critical for performing your best!
Here are a few of the many ways meditation can help you:
Numerous studies have shown that a regular meditation practice can relieve the physical symptoms of stress. It lowers your blood pressure, brings your heart rate down, and reduces the levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) in your blood stream. Scientists are continuing to learn how meditation affects the brain and nervous system, and looking to his practice as a way to increase mental wellness – as a compliment or alternative to medication, which is great news for anyone suffering from severe anxiety or depression.
Meditation is the practice of being focused – which is the opposite of how we tend to live in regular life. Distractions become exhausting, and technology tends to work like distraction training. Email, smart phones, and infinite scroll make it easier than ever to distract ourselves from the moment. The good news is that focus is a skill you can cultivate. Meditation is like lifting weights to strengthen your focus. What you practice, you then get to enjoy out in the world.
Improve Your Relationships
As you build your mindfulness muscle with meditation, you’ll become a more calm, happy, and present person. You become less reactive to other people’s drama, more clear about what you want, and better able to communicate and connect with others. This ripples out into all of your relationships – personal and professional.
Want to learn more about meditation, goal setting, and get some great tips on how to apply this to your own life? Join us at noon on Saturday, December 7th, for the final workshop in our Sustainable Health Series: Goal Setting and Meditation, with Kim Nicol, our resident Meditation and Mindfulness expert.