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Not that fiber is full of gluten. Many options aren’t and this post will focus on gluten-free choices only. If you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity and are on a gluten-free diet, you need to think about boosting your fiber intake. Most of us need to add more fiber to our diets – for a variety of heath-enhancing reasons. It’s good stuff.

First things first – what exactly is fiber, anyway? No, you don’t have to eat old broomsticks to get your daily intake, but sweeping up the mess you’ve made in your GI tract is essentially what fiber does. That, along with other good housekeeping chores. Fiber is the Cinderella* of the plant world.

According to Understanding Normal and Clinical Nutrition, fibers are the nonstarch polysaccharides that are not digested by human digestive enzymes, although some are digested by GI tract bacteria. Fibers include cellulose, hemicelluloses, pectins, gums, and mucilages and the nonpolysaccharides lignins, cutins, and tannins.

I’m betting you got stuck on the words GI tract bacteria* and have already forgotten the rest. The words aren’t important anyway, what’s important is that we get lots of fiber from the foods we eat – about 25 to 35 grams per day. Or more (I’m a big fan).

Let’s look at the different types of fiber and what their actions are in the body. You’ve probably heard the terms soluble and insoluble fiber, but all that really means is how soluble, or dissolvable, they are in water. The effects of these two fiber types don’t divide neatly along the lines of solubility, but for general health purposes, that’s how they’ve been classified.

Soluble fibers and action in the body
• Delays GI transit, which benefits digestive disorders
• Delays glucose absorption, which benefits people with diabetes (and helps prevent it)
• Lowers blood cholesterol and LDL cholesterol

Where to find soluble fiber
Oranges, grapefruit, apples, flax seeds, nuts, oats (gluten-free, if you can tolerate them) and legumes

Insoluble fibers and action in the body
• Moves bulk (poo is the scientific word) through the system and prevents constipation
• Helps control the pH balance in the intestines
• Helps remove toxic waste (that’s nice)
• Helps protect against colon cancer


Where to find insoluble fiber
Dark green leafy vegetables, green beans, cabbage, carrots, seeds, nuts, and Brussels sprouts

Whole grains provide fiber as well, but we’re only interested in gluten-free whole grains. Here’s a list of good grain choices with the fiber shown in grams per cup.

Gluten-free grains
grams of fiber in 1 cup of grain

Amaranth 18
Buckwheat 17
Corn meal 10
Flax seed 43
Millet 17
Oats (GF) 16.5
Quinoa 11.9
Rice (brown) 6.5
Rice (white) 2.4
Rice (wild) 9.9
Sorghum 12.1
Teff 15.4

To sum it up, fresh fruits and veggies, and some gluten-free grains contain fiber. Add fiber slowly as increasing intake too quickly can cause intestinal discomfort – add a little extra each day until you’ve reached your goal. Drink plenty of water. I’m talking LOTS of water, at least 8 to 10 glasses per day. And get some exercise! Strengthening abdominal core muscles and toning your GI tract helps everything flow along the way it’s suppose to. Now, go forth and eat your fiber! It’s good for you.

* Cinderella – according to my online dictionary, the word Cinderella describes a person or thing (fiber, maybe) of unrecognized or disregarded merit or beauty.

* GI tract bacteria – those of you who get creeped out easily, cover your eyes. The rest of you, read on. The intestinal microflora is a complex ecosystem made up of hundreds of different bacteria species. If kept in balance, this intestinal flora provides us with some good things, like producing a significant amount of vitamin K. If thrown out of balance, things can get nasty, but that’s for another post.

Peace, love and lots of fiber!
Melissa

Disclaimer: All material on this website is provided for informational and educational use only and should not be used for diagnostic purposes. Consult with your physician regarding any health or medical concerns you may have.

12 Responses to “gluten-free fiber”

  1. Kim says:

    Great site, my daughter’s beau has Celiac and she is learning to change beloved recipes that will work for his diet. We just made meatloaf substituting the bread crumbs for rice crackers. What a surprise the result was a lighter better tasting meatloaf. I will let her know where you are.

  2. Lizzie says:

    Melissa — you rock. I’ve been wondering about my fiber intake since starting my gluten-free diet, and now I have a wonderful, easily understandable post to refer to! Thanks for putting it into layman’s terms (yet remaining scientifically sound).

    My favorite cereal is made from amaranth; I’m psyched it’s one of the more fiber-rich gluten-free grains! Yay for fiber!

  3. Melissa, I adopted your blog at Book of Yum’s Gluten-Free Adopt-a-Blogger event. :D That means I’m going to make one of your recipes in the next couple of weeks! Very exciting.

    You can check out BoY’s post about it here: http://www.bookofyum.com/blog/adopt-a-gluten-free-blogger-today-web-event-february-1572.html

  4. Melissa says:

    Kim — yes, there’s nothing special about wheat and you’ll find the alternatives are far better! Welcome aboard the GF express!

    Lizzie — I’ll send you one of my grain charts. I’ve put together a nutritional breakdown of several gluten free grains compared to wheat. Email me so I have your email address and I’ll pass it along to you. I use it for my clients so people can really compare and see how some of the alternative grains and flours are way more nutritious anyway! melissa@glutenfreeforgood.com

    Sally — you’re such a sweetie! You know, I’ve decided I’m only going to do recipes once every so often from now on. I started out with this blog thinking it would be all GF recipes, but although I love to cook and bake, what I have to offer is help with nutrition, movement, and yoga, so that’s the direction I’m taking this. That’s my “voice.” We all have something special to offer. You know how much you’ve inspired people — I want to do that in my own way. There are so many wonderful GF recipe bloggers out there already anyway, but I appreciate you “adopting” me. Yippee! I’ll go check out Sea’s blog. I didn’t know about this. Can I adopt you back?

  5. You can adopt me back, but it’s certainly not necessary. I know your focus isn’t offering recipes all the time, but the ones you post always look/sound so delicious AND healthy that I’ve been wanting to try them anyway. Your walnut hummus is on my to-make list for this coming week. :)

  6. naomi says:

    Great post! I’m so glad to hear people starting to get excited about eating whole grains and being gluten free – the two things rarely go hand in hand it seems, in main stream gluten free cooking anyway. The only flours I can get prescribed by my doctor are rice and maize – not really very healthful! Seems such a contradiction to me that the folks who really need to increase fibre and slow down release of simple carbs, end up being prescribed such empty food, as though it were medicine.

    Boy we’ve got a long way to go! So glad you’re flying the flag.

    x x x

  7. Nick says:

    Great post on fiber too! I didn’t really know much about the differences between soluble and insoluble fiber except that both were beneficial. But now I know!

    I’m not on a gluten-free diet but I like the inventive and healthy recipes and ideas that gluten-free bloggers often come up with. And although I really dislike the whole low-carb mentality that many people still have, I buy a decent amount of low-carb products. Not ones that use artificial sweeteners or add unhealthy fats, but things like bread and tortillas (usually not gluten-free , sorry). I buy these because they generally replace the carbs with protein and/or fiber-bearing carbs. In the non-gluten-free world that usually means whole wheat and things like added wheat or oat fiber. I have these tortillas I use as wraps, for example, that have 12g of fiber each. I should add that I drink a LOT of water which is something to keep in mind when consuming larger amounts of fiber.

    - The Peanut Butter Boy

  8. Natalie says:

    I have added this to my bookmarks- this is the cutest thing I have seen in a long time AND informative!

  9. [...] gluten-free fiber GLUTEN-FREE RECIPES  [...]

  10. Heather Merson says:

    Thanks for the info! Hubby is gluten-free and my son has digestive problems too. I’m trying to get the whole family on one healthy gluten-free diet that we can enjoy and eat together.
    Thanks!
    Heather

  11. Awesome post! I used millet flour for the first time this weekend in my skillet cornbread. It was tasty AND high in fiber :) Your post did make me realize that I need to lessen my use of white rice flour and increase it with more “high fiber” gluten free grains.

  12. Wendy says:

    I am so glad I found this site – Melissa, thankyou! I struggle to get enough fibre & have to take lactolase (which has its own downside!!) – with your fibre post, I can now concentrate on aiming to get enough soluable and insoluable (this is where I struggle most) fibre through! Thankyou thankyou for making it simple.

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Disclaimer: All material on this website is provided for informational and educational use only and should not be used for diagnostic purposes. Consult with your physician regarding any health or medical concerns you may have.
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