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We all know the discomfort that can result from a poorly digested meal. However, more and more people suffer from digestive issues that can have long-term and persistent symptoms like heartburn, irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhea, constipation, gas and bloating. These conditions, left unchecked, can weaken our immune systems and interrupt our overall health and well-being.
One of the factors behind chronic digestive difficulty is an imbalanced gut microbiome resulting from insufficient dietary fiber intake. Paradoxically, once these chronic conditions have been triggered, dietary fiber can exacerbate them. By incorporating more high fiber fruits and vegetables into your daily diet you can improve your digestion, heal your gut, and support your immune system before a chronic condition develops.
Before we look at a few of the best sources of dietary fiber, let’s first shine some light on the wonderful ecology of gut microbiome!
The human microbiome is defined as:
“The ecological community of commensal, symbiotic, and pathogenic microorganisms that literally share our body space.”
The microbiome is essentially 3 pounds of friendly bacteria that reside in our gut, known as probiotics, that determine to a large extent which nutrients are absorbed and which toxins, allergens, and microbes are kept out. This process has a direct impact on the condition and function of our immune system and, when working properly, allows for optimal digestion, absorption, and assimilation of food. To put it simply, good bacteria make a home in your gastrointestinal tract and keeps the bad bacteria and yeast out. We, therefore, want to directly support our guts on a daily basis by improving the environment for friendly bacteria to exist and multiply, which in turn benefits digestive function and overall wellbeing.
Inulin: The best way to care for your microbiome is to feed it!
Just like us, the population of our gut microbiome needs nourishment, a primary form which is inulin.
Inulin is a natural storage carbohydrate and is used by plants for reserving energy as well as regulating cold resistance. It is present in more than 36,000 species of plants including artichokes, leeks, onion, bananas, garlic, asparagus, chicory root, and sugar beets.
Otherwise known as a prebiotic, inulin serves as food for beneficial bacteria, and when these beneficial bacteria are well-fed, the population increases and we reap the rewards.
Image courtesy of Rachel Barrett
American adults eat on average between 14-15 grams of fiber per day, far below the recommended 25 grams per day for women and 38 grams per day for men. These recommended amounts are actually a minimum. Many traditional societies are known to consume closer to 75-100 grams per day and suffer little to no colon cancer, constipation, irritable bowel syndromes, and other digestive disorders.
What are some of the benefits associated with fiber intake?
It is actually easy to increase the amount of fiber you consume daily if you know what to shop for, prepare, and enjoy!
Eat a variety of the following fruits and vegetables below at every meal, aiming for a minimum of 25 grams of fiber per day for women and 38 grams per day for men. This will ensure you are caring for your microbiome, your digestive system, and your overall health.
Note: Beans and rice should be soaked overnight prior to cooking to improve digestion and nutrient absorption.
Start Your Day Off Right!
I love starting off my day with a fiber-rich smoothie. Here is one of my favorites because it’s super creamy, full of healthy greens and just sweet enough!
- ¼ can coconut milk (approx. ½ cup)
- ½ avocado
- a handful of spinach
- a handful of baby kale
- ½ cucumber
- ½ banana
- a handful of frozen blueberries
Get more recipe ideas from Delicious Obsessions here.
Supporting Your Detoxification System Through Inulin-Containing Herbs
When it comes to supporting your body’s natural detoxification pathways, caffeine may not be your best friend. While those with sluggish adrenal glands and a slow thyroid tend to feel run down and in need of a regular pick-me-up (like coffee and other caffeinated beverages), in the long run, caffeine can do more harm than good while you are healing. Typically those who suffer from dysfunction in the endocrine system are also doing to deal with issues in their detoxification pathways as well (i.e. a sluggish liver, slow moving lymph, etc.).
I go into the “whys” around caffeine and its effects on the body in this detailed post here. In addition to the caffeine, there are other constituents, molds, and mycotoxins that can show up in coffee that some people find they react to and can put an extra burden on the liver to clear out of the body.
When I was diagnosed with autoimmune disease and adrenal fatigue (and sluggish detox ability), one of the first things that had to go was coffee. To be honest, I never drank coffee because of the caffeine. I drank coffee for the taste and aroma, as well as the emotional experience I felt to my morning cup of joe. For me, it was a ritual that I looked forward to every day (and sometimes multiple times a day). Whether I was brewing it at home or going to my local coffee shops, the experience was one that I clung to tightly.
But, when I was faced with new health struggles, I knew I had to do whatever I could to support my body and give it the tools it needed to heal. Giving up coffee and caffeine was one step in this direction.
And it sucked.
I turned to the coffee substitutes on the market in a desperate attempt to recreate the ritual I had grown so fond of, but nothing ever tasted the way I wanted it to. Nothing ever gave me that same experience that my cup of “real” coffee did. I knew there had to be something better, but I simply could not find it on my health food store’s shelves.
Necessity is the mother of invention so that is why I created my own coffee substitutes. They were made with organic, sustainably harvested herbs with zero grains, zero gluten, and zero caffeine. Just herbs. Herbs that not only tasted delicious but supported my body’s function, like liver detox, bile production, digestion, etc. In my mind, if I can get something to not only taste amazing but do amazing things for my body, then it’s a no brainer!
I sold these pre-made blends on Etsy for awhile and the demand was more than I could keep up with. People literally LOVED these blends and were stunned at how much like coffee they actually tasted. Customers who had been dealing with a variety of chronic illnesses had given up coffee to heal their bodies, but like me were deeply missing their morning cup of joe ritual.
After careful consideration and work with some highly experienced advisors, I decided to stop selling the pre-made blends and instead share my proprietary recipes in the form of an eBook. That way I could arm people with the knowledge and recipes they needed to make their own caffeine-free, gluten-free, grain-free blends in the comfort of their own home.
That is why I created the best-selling DIY Herbal Coffees eBook: A Complete Guide To Making Delicious Herbal Coffees to Support Healing & Stress Relief. Now in its second edition, this ebook features all of my proprietary herbal blend recipes to you can craft a homemade herbal cup of “coffee” at home.
In addition, you get a ton of researched information about coffee’s impact on the health of those dealing with issues like adrenal fatigue, blood sugar dysregulation, autoimmune disease, thyroid disease, and any other chronic illness.
Lastly, you get access to your own personal coffee shop. I show you how to recreate your favorite coffee shop drinks and pastries with wholesome, nourishing real food ingredients. No junk here.
This book truly is a comprehensive guide to supporting your health, reducing your stress, and bringing a little something special back into your healing journey. You can learn more and download your own copy of this revolutionary wellness guide here, or simply click on the image below.