chia seeds

Chia seeds are a rich source of soluble fiber


I had originally planned to close out this epic three-part article by going over the hundred-and-one source of fiber. But I changed my mind. First of all, it would kind of overwhelming. And also, I figure if you already understand the differences between soluble and insoluble fiber, you can probably figure out all you need to know about most fiber-rich foods just by reading the nutrition labels.

So instead of a big long list, here are four especially noteworthy source of fiber.

Acacia Fiber: The Best Fiber for All-Around Colon Health: from the bark of the acacia tree, acacia fiber is a wonderful normalizing fiber, especially in irritable bowel disease, where it can speed up a colon that’s a little sluggish, but also slow down a colon that’s moving things along too quickly.

More than most soluble fibers, acacia is also a rich source of prebiotics, which feed the healthy gut bacteria. So acacia helps the gut two ways. Over the day or two it takes to pass through you, it gives you all the benefits of a bulk-forming, normalizing fiber. And over weeks and months, it also feeds and fertilizes your healthy gut bacteria. For chronic gut motility issues — both constipation and diarrhea, it can really start to create long-lasting change.

Flax Seeds and Chia Seeds: The Healthiest Fiber-Foods: Neither one is a great source of fiber, although both are pretty darn good. What puts these two seeds on the list, however, is how much other nutrition they’re packed with, above and beyond fiber. Both are easy to use, too. Both can be ground up (or bought already ground) and added to baked goods, sprinkled on top of yogurt, cereal, etc.

A little flax or chia on breakfast is a great way to start the day.

In the case of flax seeds, the fiber is supplemented with healthy omega-3 fats. Flax seeds also contain flax lignans, some of our very best hormone-balancing nutrients. These are useful for anyone, but especially women who may have difficulties with breast tenderness, water retention, or mood during their monthly cycle. There’s also some pretty compelling evidence linking flax lignans with a reduction in the risk of hormone-driven cancers.

Chia seeds are a good source of fiber, healthy fats, calcium, iron, and magnesium. If you add chia seeds to liquid, the outer layers swell up, as the soluble fiber there absorbs the fluids. You end up soft, silky floaters that look kind of like frog eggs. Some people find it weird. Others find it interesting and delightful. We sell an awful lot of kombucha with chia seeds in it, so there are certainly quite a few people in the “interesting and delightful” camp, Debra included. Debra makes her own chia beverage by adding a spoonful of the seeds to cold tea with stevia and a squeeze of fresh lemon.

Glucomannan: The Best Fiber for Blood Sugar, Cholesterol, Appetite, and Weight Control: Also known as konjac fiber, glucomannan is the most efficient soluble fiber that I know of for binding cholesterol and other toxins, and regulating sugar absorption from the diet. It’s not that glucomannan works better than guar gum, apple pectin, oat bran, etc. It’s simply that glucomannan absorbs so much water – up to 200 times its own weight! – that you need a lot less of it to get there.

A standard dose is 1,000 mg (usually two capsules) before meals, three times a day.

Or if you’re feeling creative, check out the pasta we sell made from glucomannan. To be honest, it’s not the best spaghetti you’ll ever eat, but if you put enough sauce on it, it’s not half bad

either. And the cool thing is, it’s literally zero grams carbs per serving (rounded to the nearest whole number). [Debra’s note: I also like the Sophie’s Choice vegan scallops, which are made with konjac too].

Psyllium husks: Psyllium seeds come from a plant related to the plantain “weed” you’ve probably see in your back yard. Unlike most commercial sources of fiber that are either soluble or insoluble, but rarely both, psyllium is a combination of the two, running about 3/4 soluble and 1/4 insoluble. So it provides the longer-term benefits of soluble fiber, in terms of weight control, cholesterol, etc., as well as a solid boost to regularity.

Psyllium is also easy, cheap, and transportable, so it’s the main ingredient in a lot of fiber products on the market. (Metamucil may be the best-known brand name). Whole husks tend to be more abrasive, better at promoting regularity. Husk powder tends to be a little softer and more soothing.

… Adam Stark