Fiber During Pregnancy
Fiber is important for healthy digestion and bowel movements during pregnancy. Without a fiber-rich diet during pregnancy you become vulnerable to intestinal disorders, particularly constipation. Fiber with almost zero nutritional value is very vital for your digestive tract.
Did you know
- There are two main types of fiber, soluble and insoluble. Some foods have both, particularly whole grains.
- Fiber is the part of the plant that cannot be digested by human enzymes. Since it is not digested, it provides no calories or energy.
- What it does provide is bulk which helps move waste products quickly through the intestinal tract. Waste products shouldn't stay longer in your system since it contains harmful bacteria and toxins.
- Fiber fills you up without adding unnecessary calories. During pregnancy when resisting sugary and refined foods become especially difficult, this is a bonus.
- Soluble fibers include most fruits and vegetables. It has been shown to reduce cholesterol and thereby minimize the risk of heart disease.
- Insoluble fibers include bran, rice, fruit peel and nuts – it passes through the intestine unchanged.
- Fiber lessens your chances of developing cancer of the colon, rectum, endometrium and breast.
- Soluble fiber-rich foods slow down the absorption of carbohydrates; sugars are slowly released into the bloodstream. This helps to control blood sugar, which is especially useful to people with diabetes.
- Both types of fiber require water for processing so staying well hydrated becomes really necessary. If you increase your fiber intake then make sure to increase your water intake as well.
- Increasing physical activity aids with the speedy elimination of waste. Some exercise helps.
- Eating plenty of fiber and drinking plenty of water along with some exercise can boost a sluggish system, which you can be susceptible to during pregnancy.
- You should aim for 20-30 gm of fiber a day. A good way to tell if you are getting enough fiber is your stools, which should be large and soft. Frequency doesn't count as much.
- Too much of a good thing can be bad. Excess of fiber in the diet can backfire and cause you to have diarrhea and a loss of nutrients.
- The husk portion of the pysllium is known for the high-soluble fiber content and it is used in some over-the-counter laxatives and food. Pysllium husk has 14 times more soluble fiber than oat bran. Do not take OTC laxatives without consulting your doctor first.
Soluble and Insoluble Fiber
- Soluble fiber dissolves in water and forms a gummy substance. The best sources include barley, dried beans and peas, fruits (like apples, figs, mangoes, plums and strawberries), lentils, oats, psyllium and vegetables (like broccoli, cabbage, carrots, sprouts and potatoes).
- Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water. It functions to remove unwanted debris. It soaks up water and expands the bulk of waste products and this makes stools softer and easier to move through your intestines. Insoluble fiber prevents constipation and hemorrhoids. The best sources include bran cereals, brown rice, corn and popcorn, fruits like apples and pears, vegetables like spinach, asparagus and okra and 100% whole grain breads and pastas.
A Diet Change
- Since you have decided to make the change, go about it gradually. Give your body time to adapt as you make the switch.
- Adding a lot of fiber to your meals all at once can result in bloating and flatulence. Increase your fiber gradually beginning with soluble fiber. Drink lots of water, more than you think you need and preferably between meals.
- Build your intake of dried beans, broccoli, cabbage, bran and other such gassy foods slowly. Give the bacteria in your digestive tract a chance to adjust to processing complex carbs.
- The most common cause of fiber discomfort is wheat bran. If you have problems with one type of fiber food, try another. Keep your diet as varied as possible.
- If you experience problems when making the switch it is likely due to your previous diet being high in sugar and fat, which your body has grown accustomed to. It can take a while to make the change but it is worth in the long run.
Getting your Fiber Fix
- Start your morning with a high fiber cereal mixed with regular cereal topped with a fruit.
- Snack on a piece of fruit or dried fruit instead of drinking juice.
- Drink plenty of water – eight glasses a day. If there isn't enough water to soak up, fiber can become constipating
- Don't peel your potatoes and other fruits and vegetables. Be sure to wash them well first.
- Go for 100% whole wheat bread, wheat, pasta and crackers.
- Build meals around beans; add them to salads and soups as well
- Eat brown rice or quinoa instead of white rice.
- Eat adequate portions of fresh fruits and vegetables every day.