We're all friends here: so let's not be shy! While not the sexiest of topics, but it sure helps you feel better when the plumbing is cleaned out.
Have you heard about the Holy Grail of Bowel Movements? It is not talked about in many social circles, and often looked upon as hard to achieve, but with your friend fiber to help, (and us, your friends to talk about it with!) you won't be feeling shy, full or constipated any longer.
When Nikki at the Green Vanity and I partnered for our very first event, and did our Taking the Taboo out of Poo day event - almost 2 years ago - we opened up the discussions to the public & our clients about what healthy bowel movements felt like - and how to get them bulkier and easier to pass. Not stuff everyone is comfortable talking about, but once you master having regular healthy poo, you won't feel as strange to talk about it. You might even feel proud! (You'll most definitely feel lighter, cleaner and happier!)
To get all those benefits, there are two types of fiber that your body needs.... soluble and insoluble. Both come from plants and are forms of carbohydrates. Fibre includes all parts of plant foods that your body can't digest or absorb and is also known as roughage or bulk. But your friend Fiber can’t be broken down and absorbed by your digestive system so as it moves through your body it slows down digestion and makes your stools softer and easier to pass.
Most foods contain both insoluble and soluble fiber but are usually more abundant in one type than the other. The easiest way to learn them is that soluble fiber absorbs water, turning into a gel-like mush (think of what happens when you add water to oatmeal - I think "S" soluble for Slush) while Insoluble fiber doesn’t absorb water (think of what happens if you poured water over celery.) For the layperson this doesn't really matter - the point is that we know we have both in our diet. Slush fiber comes more from certain grains, beans and lentils while Insoluble comes more from whole grains and vegetables.
I'm attaching high fiber foods that are EASY to get into your diet.
MY TOP 7 HIGH-FIBER FOODS TO EASILY ADD TO YOUR DIET
I love oats, especially as a warming breakfast in the cold Canadian winters. They are soft, easy to digest for those of you who are still trying to incorporate breakfast into your day, and can easily be flavoured many, many different ways. My favourite recipe for oats can be found here, and my favourite overnight oat recipes that I share with my clients can be found here.
I always saw barley as that ingredient that great-great-grandmother added to her huge cauldron soups, for heartiness and good cheer. After adding the barley, she'd go finish knitting sweaters, feed the animals, help a neighbour deliver a baby and then return home to serve her 9 children and husband dinner. (Gosh, do we have a lot to admire.) Here's my favourite easy barley recipe - no doula/knitting/homesteading skills required - or you can just add barley to your favourite winter soup or stew. (If you can, use hulled barley rather than pearl! With less of the outer layers having been removed, it has more of the good stuff!)
A staple in my pantry, although I usually have canned beans on hand. If you buy dried and cook your own beans, all the power to you. Beans are easy to add to soups or stews, but my favourite is my super-fresh summer couscous salad. It's truly fast and delicious, which makes it the best summer staple food to have on hand in your fridge. So if you're stuck on how to get more beans in your diet this week, there's a mighty large chance you can't go wrong with this incredible salad!
So easy to make into a quick soup. Lentils rock, their fiber content is great but they have another big benefit - their protein and mineral content makes them a necessary staple for vegetarians and vegans. Lentils are believed to be one of the oldest crops that exists! Now that's traditional food. My favourite recipe is for winter lentil masala from my friend and nutritionist Renee. It's quick, easy and incredibly nourishing.
Well this is an easy one. Just eat more fruits for great fiber content. Fruits with skins you can eat are apples, grapes, kiwi (buy organic) and mango. My personal favourite fruits are pineapples, cantaloupe and Okanagan cherries/peaches and raspberries. The easiest fruits to add to your diet are easily hand-held snacks that don't have any messy drippings - such as bananas, mandarin oranges, blueberries, cherries or strawberries. This recommendation is best for summer, & a fruit salad can really dress it all up and put a nice bow on it.
Ahhh, an essential skill for your holistic kitchen. It took me awhile to master brown rice (having a rice cooker also makes things easier, too, although not necessary!) and now I cook it up all the time. I use it in casseroles, for stir-fry's or in stuffed peppers. Soaking your brown rice for 6-8 hours (the night or day before cooking) really helps cut cooking time down and removes phytic acid, making the minerals in the rice more available to your body, soaking whole grains is ancient wisdom and is still practiced around the world in traditional food practices. Here's a great brown rice guide.
Digestive health = eating lots of vegetables. I could have picked eggplant, or cabbage, or brussels sprouts, but I picked broccoli. Why? Broccoli is just one of my favourites. I find it super easy to steam (quick steam 5-9 minutes) and layer with dressings or sauces, Kitsilano flashbacks, sea salt or cheese for a treat and a fast breakie or lunch. But all veggies are easy to steam and coat in your favourite sauce or cheese. What's your favourite veggie? Roasted is best for winter, raw feels best for the summer.
Something else to keep in mind.....
Fermented foods aid digestion BIG time. Your supplements intake and exercise levels also contribute to digestive health and functioning. But another big variable in your digestive health is water. Healthy poop contains a lot of water.... if the body senses you are dehydrated, it'll suck every drop of moisture out of your food, which means dry and hard to pass poops. Even if you're getting plenty of fiber, without proper H2O intake, you're sure to get no-fun, painful poops. Keep in mind that if you're sweating due to heat or exertion, you'll need even more water to recover to normal hydration levels.