Episode 39: Everything You Need to Know About Fiber
Today, we’re taking a step back from the nitty gritty details of the microbiome and focusing on something we talk about a lot: FIBER. Fiber is the key to making this whole engine of the gut work -- but if we’re not doing it right, it can also cause us a lot of...ahem, discomfort.
On today’s show, Andrea talks to Meghan Telpner, a Toronto-based author, speaker, nutritionist and founder of the Academy of Culinary Nutrition. Meghan was ranked as one of the top 100 female entrepreneurs in Canada by Profit Magazine and was named best holistic nutritionist in 2017 and 2018 by National Nutrition.
She’s also the author of two best-selling, award-winning books: UnDiet: Eat Your Way To Vibrant Health and The UnDiet Cookbook.
Meghan and Andrea dive into the basics of fiber (what is it and why is it so important?) before answering some listener submitted questions about the intricacies of fiber: does it make you poop or plug you up? Will I get smelly and gassy if I increase my fiber intake? And what about supplements like Metamucil?
This episode doesn’t shy away from talking about doing your daily business, so don’t miss it if you’ve ever wondered why fiber is so important and how you can dial in the right amount for your body.
Resources mentioned on the show:
- Meghan’s website
- Culinary Nutrition program
Bristol Stool Chart: Types of Poop - Shapes, Textures & Consistency
- History of Bristol Chart name (via Wikipedia): Developed and proposed for the first time in England by Stephen Lewis and Ken Heaton at the University Department of Medicine, Bristol Royal Infirmary.
- Squatty Potty
- Meghan’s FREE mini-training, including 7 recipes and over 40 minutes of video
On this show, you’ll learn:
- What is fiber? (2:32)
- Why is it so important? (3:59)
- Are soluble and insoluble fiber both beneficial for the microbiome? (6:26)
- Foods that are high in each type of fiber (6:54)
- Signs you may be overdoing fiber intake (10:56)
- Different cultures and their intakes of fiber (15:12)
- The importance of hydration (20:02)
- Easy ways to add more fiber (22:01)
- Where to start (28:00)
- Individuality and fiber choices (29:45)
- Metamucil – good or bad? (31:36)
- Fiber and gas (34:26)
- Tools of the pooping trade (35:16)
Andrea Wien: Welcome to The Microbiome Report powered by BIOHM Health. I'm your host, Andrea Wien. Today we're taking a step back from the nitty-gritty details of the microbiome and focusing on something we talk about a lot, fiber. My guest today is Meghan Telpner, a Toronto based author, speaker, nutritionist and founder of the Academy of Culinary Nutrition. And she's the author of two best-selling award-winning books, UnDiet: Eat Your Way to Vibrant Health and the UnDiet Cookbook. Meghan was ranked as one of the top 100 female entrepreneurs in Canada by Profit Magazine and was named best holistic nutritionist in 2017 and 2018 by National Nutrition. She's also the wife of our past guests, Josh Gitalis. Wow, talk about your serious power couple.
She's an expert on all things food and making healthy food as delicious as possible. So I can't think of anyone better to be sharing her knowledge on this topic with us. We dive into the basics of fiber, like what it is and why it's so important before answering some listener submitted questions about the intricacies of fiber. Does it make you poop or plug you up, for example. Will I get him smelly and gassy if I up what I'm eating? And what about supplements like Metamucil or what happens to fiber when it's blended, like in smoothies versus when it's cooked or raw? This episode is packed with intel about the details of what's on our plates. And I think you'll learn a lot about how to improve your digestion by focusing on fiber, enjoy the show. Meghan, thank you so much for joining us. I'm so excited to have you on the show.
Meghan Telpner: Thank you for having me, Andrea.
Andrea Wien: So we talk a lot on this show about the importance of diet and fiber and what people should be eating to really feed the beneficial organisms that are living in our gut. And we realized we haven't really ever gone back to the basics brass tacks and explained what fiber is. Why is this thing that everyone talks about so important? So that's really what this show is going to be all about. And before people get this idea of like fiber is foods that don't taste good and sawdust and all these kinds of like things that we think about with fiber, we also want to talk to you about what fiber can be found in good food and how do we get more delicious food into our diet? It's not about sacrifice. So let's start with what is fiber?
Meghan Telpner: Fiber is basically the part of plant based foods. So fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, lentils, legumes, that give the food it's structure, so that's typically the insoluble fiber. Those are the components that make celery long and fibrous and crunchy. And then the other part is the insoluble fiber or the part of the fiber that we can actually digest, which is basically a form of a carbohydrate. So that's sort of like the best definition I can give. You can consider fiber present in every unprocessed plant-based food. I mean, even processed foods will have some amount of fiber in them, but significantly less. And then the animal source foods will not have fiber. And that's sort of how you can differentiate to know whether what you're eating has fiber in it or not. If you're eating an Apple, there's fiber, if you're eating a piece of chicken, there's no fiber.
Andrea Wien: Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. And I think when we think about just diets in general, we'll get to the topic of added fibers because I think we see that on a lot of products, right?
Meghan Telpner: Yes.
Andrea Wien: Packaged foods we'll say like three grams of added fiber, and we can talk about whether or not that's as beneficial as eating something like an Apple, but why is fiber so important? Obviously listeners of our show know that it helps to feed those microbiota, but what's really going on in the digestive track that makes fiber so essential?
Meghan Telpner: It's twofold. So we can look at it from the two different types of fiber first, which I think would be helpful. So outside of the microbiome and feeding the good bacteria, we have soluble fiber, which is the kind that is basically digestible. And that fiber helps to positively slow the absorption of the food we're eating into the body. So we are what we eat or what we digest and assimilate. And so that slower absorption of the nutrients from the food we're eating and the glucose and all those components are really important for us to basically effectively metabolize the food we're eating and use it to do all the things the body needs to do for metabolic processes, so that's a key function of the soluble fiber.
And then with the insoluble fiber, and I'm just giving like the top level functions of them, but with insoluble fiber, that is what forms the bulk of our stool, our poop. So the insoluble fiber is indigestible. So it passes through the body and basically becomes the bulking agent to take up any byproducts of the metabolic process, bacteria that needs to be cleared, excess estrogen, excess waste from the body and that insoluble fiber acts as the sponge to hold onto it, absorb it and it bulks it up to effectively and efficiently eliminate it. So the large intestine is a muscle. It's a smooth muscle like the heart. So it's not something we can go to the gym and strengthen, but we strengthen that smooth muscle by giving it something to grab onto. And that fiber is that thing it grabs onto and strengthens to move through the peristaltic action. Similar, if you think of a snake slithering along.
So it grabs onto that and the smooth muscle helps move that bulking agent, that fiber with all that waste material out through the body, through the large intestine and the tushy into the toilet. I'm potty training my son right now, so we're explaining this a lot. So that's basically the main differentiation in terms of the functional role that fiber plays in the body, or the two different types of fiber and both are critical to optimal digestion, optimal elimination, but also to the optimal absorption and utilization of the nutrition from the food that we're eating.
Andrea Wien: Now, when we talk about the microbiome and the actual microbiota that are in there, are both forms of this fiber beneficial for those?
Meghan Telpner: Well, they'll both play a role. So typically it's the soluble fiber that will feed and nourish the bacteria in the gut, but it's the insoluble fiber that ensures nothing hangs around too long and creates a state of putrefaction or dysbiosis.
Andrea Wien: Okay. And just so people can kind of start to visualize, as we're talking about these different things, what are some foods that are high in soluble fiber and high in insoluble fiber?
Meghan Telpner: So really, I mean, whole grains are a great example of foods that are rich in both soluble and insoluble fiber. One of the challenges we find though, is that when grains start being processed into say, a white baking flour, that outer insoluble fiber form, the husk is typically removed and discarded. So you get some soluble fiber in it, but you're missing the real beneficial components. So that's why we see a lot of foods cited as rich in fiber being breakfast cereals like Shredded Wheat. I don't know if that's a brand name, if I can say it, but these, the breakfast cereals proclaim a high fiber content because it's processed grain and then had those fiber components added back in. So that's one of the most, when you think about a fiber rich food, we often think of breakfast cereals because it's so heavily marketed.
But really, any vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes. I talked about celery, like I think of the harder vegetables, those are going to be the ones that have higher amounts of insoluble fiber, also soluble fiber as well. If you think about a really great example of a soluble rich food is blueberries. And the reason I use this as an example is because if you've ever made a smoothie with blueberries and I know we're going to chat a bit more about smoothies and you let it sit for an hour, it becomes really thick and sort of mucky. And that's the soluble fiber creating this gelatinous substance. Chia seeds do that and flax seeds also do that really effectively where you can actually see how that soluble fiber creates this gel like consistency, which is also part of what makes it so beneficial to the gut lining.
But really looking at, lentils and legumes are going to be sources of insoluble and soluble fiber. All of these unprocessed plant-based foods will have them. The ones that have less are the ones that are more water dense, like watermelon, there's still fiber in watermelon, but it's predominantly water. And like leafy greens, those are all really good sources of both types of fiber. And really if you're looking at a plentiful, plant rich diet or eating vegetables that are non-starchy, you're going to get more fiber in them. So starchy vegetables are basically the biggest example I can think of is a white potato, which is a lot of starch, but not a ton of beneficial fiber in that way, except the peel. The peel is a good option.
Andrea Wien: That's exactly what I was just going to say. I think sometimes we get a little crazy about taking the peels off of things. I think the thing that I think is one of the worst offenders is carrots, right? Like the peel on a carrot is so innocuous really to eat. I mean, it doesn't really have any impact on the final food and we're constantly taking that peel off, but it's so full of this good fiber that we're talking about. So-
Meghan Telpner: Right. And an extra thing about the peel just completely rudely interrupting you. I'm sorry.
Andrea Wien: It's fine.
Meghan Telpner: Before you move on, I just want to say, because that peel, especially when food's grown in organic soil and optimal growing environments, that outer area isn't just about the fiber, but there's also the highest concentration of nutrients in that outer area as well.
Andrea Wien: Yeah. And I think that's true too of like avocado, even something with a very thick peel, there are more nutrients closer to the peel part. Is that right?
Meghan Telpner: I have no idea if that's true of an avocado or like a banana.
Andrea Wien: I've heard that before.
Meghan Telpner: I actually don't know.
Andrea Wien: Yeah. I think too what we were talking about with the smoothies versus something like a whole vegetable, the debate is kind of on if the fiber remains the same, whether we blend it or eat something whole, and similarly, the debate is on between cooked and raw foods in terms of their fiber. So some people say that smoothies retain completely all of the amount of fiber as if you were to eat all of those vegetables whole. Well, some people say the act of blending it might actually break that down. So if people are, obviously, we're not going to solve that debate here on this show, but what are some signs that people might be overdoing it on their fiber if they're drinking a smoothie in the morning, let's say?
Meghan Telpner: There is something to heat can break down carbohydrates in certain ways, similar to how a banana, the longer you let it sit, those carbohydrates break down and the starches convert to sugars, like to sweeter sugars. We know this from a green banana is very sort of starchy and like a stringent to an overripe banana, which is super sweet. So a similar thing, not the same mechanism, but can happen when you cook something, it changes the structure of things. But if you look at a smoothie and you take some kale and you want to know what's in my smoothie, like I have kale, I have soluble rice bran I add in, also known as Tocotrienols. I have some celery in it, some hemp seeds, a few different foods, and I'm going to blend that. And without eating all those things whole, there is some breakdown that happens in the blender.
However, that insoluble fiber is still there. The thing is the longer it'll sit in the smoothie, the less absorbing action it will have in my body because it's actually doing that in the smoothie. But the soluble fiber is still there and will still help to slow that absorption, will still help to nourish the gut microbiome. Whether the fiber in a smoothie is good for someone or not, often will depend on the person's own inherent digestive ability. And I think a big part of why some people get [extradacious] or uncomfortable from drinking smoothies that are high in fiber, isn't necessarily because of the structure of the fiber in a smoothie, but more so twofold. One is that you can blend a massive amount of fibrous food into a smoothie that could take you hours and hours and hours to eat if you actually had to chew it all.
So you could put in like five giant leaves of kale and a ton of vegetables. If you had to sit and eat that as a salad, it would take you a lot longer to process and digest, or you just might not be able to even consume all that before basically your jaw gets tired and you get bored of eating it, so that's one thing. So you could be taking in more fiber than you would ever actually eat if it weren't blended. And the other thing is that a really important part of our digestion is actually chewing, so that process of chewing that secretes the enzymes in the mouth is a key part of carbohydrate digestion. And when you just suck back a massive smoothie that would take you two hours to chew and swallow, and you can suck that back in five minutes, you're bypassing the natural mechanism in your body to prepare your body to actually secrete the digestive juices necessary to fully digest that, not just the fiber, but everything in it. And so that can lead to a little bit of digestive upset.
So it can be either way. And again, it goes back to the individual. One of the things I used to do when I first started drinking smoothies and I was sucking them back way too fast, that it was upsetting my digestion, was I'd actually put a little bit of cayenne in it. It doesn't impact the flavor, but it basically prevents you from drinking a giant 750 milliliter glass, or three to four cups of this liquid all in one giant set.
Andrea Wien: I love that. That's such a good tip. I mean, it really goes back to a lot of what we talk about on this show too, just good eating hygiene. And that shouldn't stop when you're eating a smoothie versus when you're eating a salad. So really slowing down, making sure you're breathing, possibly even chewing a little bit on that smoothie, even though it might seem silly, just sends that message from the brain to the rest of the body and the digestive track, food is on its way, get ready.
Meghan Telpner: Yeah.
Andrea Wien: This is also a great segue into how much fiber we should be aiming for. So I think it's so interesting. Our recommendations here in the US, I know you're in Canada, might be slightly different, but they're in like the 20s to 30s range of how many grams of fiber people should be eating. But when we look at tribes in Africa, some other nomadic cultures, they're eating upwards of a hundred or more grams of fiber a day and having a lot less issues in terms of digestive problems and chronic diseases that we know can come from a dysbiotic gut or not eating enough fiber in our diet. Can you talk a little bit about that dichotomy?
Meghan Telpner: Yeah. So what's interesting is, you referenced different tribes in different cultures, eating different quantities of fiber. And in a lot of cases, they're doing a lot of better than us. They're not having issues of constipation or diarrhea or hemorrhoids or dysbiosis or all these other things we have. And my husband, Josh, and I know you've already spoken with, we hear often and like this is the stuff two married nutritionist talk about, we're like, how come no other species needs to wipe their bum when they poop? And we think about this because when you have sufficient fiber in your diet and government recommendations create a framework of which you want to aim for, or work around. In some cases, I don't agree with all of them necessarily for every person, but usually how you know when you're getting enough fiber is knowing how your body works.
And if you consider that morning bowel movement a bit of a status report on how you did the day before, that can be a really good indicator. So this is a little bit icky to discuss, but if you're pooping in the morning and you're needing to use half a roll of toilet paper, that's a really solid indicator that you're not getting enough fiber because that insoluble fiber is which should ultimately bulk up your stool enough that when you evacuate, there's nothing left behind, which is how animals, healthy animals typically also will do their business. Another thing that can be an indicator is your transit time. So the amount of time it takes for you to eat something to when you see remnants of it in your bowel movement. And one of the things that you can try if anyone's interested is the beet test, where you eat some beets, because those typically will show up in your pooh and see how long it takes.
Now, a healthy transit time is typically anywhere from 12 to 18, you can even push it to 24 hours. If those beets aren't showing up for 36 or 48 or 72 hours, which is very common, that can be another indicator that you're just not getting enough fiber in your diet to move things through effectively. And again, that can also be an indicator that there is some dysbiosis in the gut that you maybe need to pay more attention to that soluble fiber and insoluble fiber to both nourish the cells and the microbiome in the gut, but also to ensure effective evacuation. So it really comes down to the individual. And the tricky part is if most people on the standard American diet are getting anywhere from five to 10 grams of fiber a day, they can't automatically be like, oh, well, I'm like, not pooping enough, when I do, I'm using the whole roll of toilet paper, I'm going to increase to a hundred grams of fiber and sort this out right away.
You're going to have some serious digestive issues. And so it's really important to pay attention to is moderate increases. And what we'll often see, especially people go from a standard diet to say, a strictly plant-based vegan diet is a lot of digestive upset. When people start introducing more beans or more cruciferous vegetables, all of which will have an impact on that balanced microbiome. It requires a little bit of a transition time. So you may have periods of more digestive instability or gurgling, or that kind of symptom that it's really just a matter of slowly incrementally increasing your fiber intake and finding that balance. And that's why, personally, and with the work that I do, I don't really focus necessarily on the government regulations or recommended daily intakes, but instead look at the individual and how their body is functioning.
And with women specifically, there's differences through the course of the monthly cycle as well, whether more fiber is needed or less, or how our bowels are operating based on our hormone levels at any given times. So there's a lot of factors that will influence the optimal amount of fiber we need, but that daily or optimally twice daily pooping is a really solid, no pun intended, indicator of how you're doing.
Andrea Wien: Yeah. And I think you make a great point that it should be daily, at least. I have so many clients that have come to me and they'll say yeah, I go every two to four days, but that's how it's always been. And to that, I always respond, just because it's common doesn't mean that it's normal. So we really want to be going every day. And if we're not, then that's something that we really need to look into and it could be fiber, but in the same vein, the other thing I wanted to bring up is if you are increasing your fiber even incrementally, you also need to make sure that your hydration is in a good place, because you think about all what we've talked about so far, that fiber really is sucking everything up and compacting everything. Well, what's going to move that out? It's water.
Meghan Telpner: Yeah. And without enough hydration, when you go to the bathroom, it's like a deer came to visit. It's just like pellet poops. And you'd find all these charts online of like what your pooh tells you. And oftentimes it's pretty accurate. And that's why it can be such an effective read on your efforts, the day before, if you're heavily constipated or you have really hard poops, it can be an indication that you didn't drink enough water. And of course, with everything going on in the world right now, stress can also have an impact on how that smooth muscle, that large intestine actually responds.
Andrea Wien: Yeah, absolutely. We can link to one of those charts. It's called a Bristol chart. We'll put it in the show notes. So if you want to go check it out and make sure that what you're putting out other end is normal, we'll definitely link to that there.
Meghan Telpner: But why is it called a Bristol chart? Like was there a guy like Jack Bristol who came up with these? Like would I want-
Andrea Wien: I think that I would want that, right?
Meghan Telpner: No. I want to be remembered for this pooh chart.
Andrea Wien: My claim to fame, I mean yeah, who knows? But maybe I'll find that and put that in the show notes too. The Microbiome Report is brought to you by BIOHM Super Greens, a super greens formula that combines 31 super greens with prebiotic digestive enzymes and BIOHM probiotics, giving you a supercharge in a single scoop. To check out BIOHM Super Greens, go to biohmhealth.com. That's B-I-O-H-Mhealth.com and make sure to use the code BIOHM10, to get 10% off of your order.
So when you are working with someone, you're advising them to start eating more of maybe a whole food plant-based diet, I do want to say that we're not excluding meat, meat just in this conversation, it doesn't have a lot of fiber, as you mentioned. So it's not that we have to totally go to a completely plant-based diet to get the fiber that we need, there are certainly easy ways that we can start to add in more. So what are some of those ways that you recommend?
Meghan Telpner: For sure. And I just want to be clear that I'm not advocating for a strictly plant-based diet for anyone. I don't advocate any specific diet for everyone. I think we all need to find the right balance. I do wonder however, with these trends towards this carnivore diet, what that actually does, if someone is eating only meat and there's lots of research around it, but I do wonder how the long-term implications that would having any plant sources of fiber in the diet will affect digestion, but that's a question I need to-
Andrea Wien: We had that conversation too, just about the microbiota, right? And they do show a decrease in diversity, which we know is a marker of health. So if we have fewer diverse strains in there, generally, I don't want to say in every case, but generally we see more symptoms and more symptomatology. So this really plays into that, people who are on the carnivore diet, not only what is it doing to their digestion, but what is it doing to the colonies that have really evolved to help them regulate mood or digest other foods?
Meghan Telpner: Yeah. And that also impacts the immune system, but we will move on from there. So how do we get fiber into the diet deliciously? Was that the question?
Andrea Wien: Yes. So what are some easy ways. Someone listening to this they're thinking, hmm, like I don't know if I get enough fiber, but let me try to bump some things up and see what happens.
Meghan Telpner: Right. So it's really looking at how you can easily upgrade what you're already eating. So let's say someone likes toast for breakfast. Well, could you move that bread towards being one made with exclusively whole grains and maybe it's even a sour dose that there is some of that beneficial bacteria, a lot is going to get baked out, but at least it's a natural yeast rising process with environmental yeast. So maybe you're just upgrading to a better toast. And maybe on that toast, instead of just having cheese, maybe you spread a nut butter, or maybe you spread a nut butter with some Apple with the skin on, and that's like a pretty standard, widely accepted breakfast. If you want to take that to a whole different level, you could look at doing a smoothie or potentially doing like a chia parfait type breakfast, where you soak some chia seeds in maybe a coconut milk or an almond milk.
You could even take those chia seeds and soak them in a blend of cashews and water, so you're not even straining out that fiber, but you're getting sort of a thickening gel with that. And then you're adding to that some fresh berries, a sprinkle of hemp seeds. And now you have a really fiber and protein and also, drizzle some flax oil, and you've got some fat in there. And that makes a really nice, complete, fiber rich, but also blood sugar balancing breakfast. If you're looking at your lunch and maybe your lunch has been a sandwich, well, maybe you can swap that bread out, swap your bread for a kale leaf used as a rapper piece, a lettuce as a wrap or looking at some of these alternative grain-based bread type products to replace it. And then you're looking at what goes into that sandwich.
Can you add slices of veggies in there, or have veggies on the side? Can you add a spread of hummus to that as both adding flavor and fiber and protein? So there's ways that you can start to mask in and add these things in. A really powerful fiber option is making big hearty soups with loads of vegetables and adding in mixes of beans. Like maybe it's navy beans or pinto beans, or the kind of beans that you probably aren't eating very much of. And in that you can also add if you want some beef or chicken or fish or another animal source protein added to that, then you're going to get a really rich and diverse profile of flavor and protein. And if we look at dinner, maybe we're swapping past the noodles for spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles or doing half and half because noodles are delicious.
But then looking at what kind of noodles you're using, maybe instead of a white flour noodle, we switch to a quinoa pasta or a chickpea pasta. And what you're adding to that instead of just a meat sauce, maybe there you're adding sliced carrots and red pepper and mushrooms and all these other things to that sauce that is going over top of your meals. So it's really looking at not necessarily being like, okay, I need to swipe my cupboards clean and start eating completely differently, but more getting creative on where you can add some of these fiber rich foods to what you're already eating. And what will often happen is that sort of a fiber lists or empty calorie type foods kind of fall out the bottom. One of the incredible benefits of increasing fiber intake overall is it also increases your feelings of satiation after you've eaten. It makes you feel fuller for longer, which can also have a direct impact on no longer needing or craving sort of the starchy, high sugar, instant carb fixed snacks that we often look for when we don't feel full after our meals.
Andrea Wien: Yeah. I think you bring up a great point too, with the fiber making you feel fuller. When I talk to clients and I tell them, and I think maybe this is something that you teach as well. Think about if your snacks and meals have fat, fiber and protein, kind of the magic three. And if they don't, then really those should be limited things that you're eating. They shouldn't be making up the bulk of your diet. So fat, fiber and protein at every meal. And then I love how you went through breakfast, lunch and dinner. And one of the reasons of the many that we wanted to have you on to talk to us is because you have a whole cookbook, a blog full of recipes that are all in this vein of how can we get fat, fiber, protein into our diets in healthy and delicious ways. And of course you have a course that people can take as well.
So there's really so many resources in your little bubble of meghantelpner.com and UnDiet, which is your cookbook that people who are thinking, okay, this sounds good. I want to start to experiment more, but I don't know where to go. You have so many resources.
Meghan Telpner: Yes. And I've been eating this way for 14 years and my own health crisis way long ago in 2006, with an autoimmune inflammatory bowel disease was really what made me look at, what is going on inside my intestines? What is going on in my microbiome that has allowed this condition to proliferate, knowing what my weakest link now is, that's why I'm so focused because every single meal, we have an opportunity to nourish the cells that line our intestine, as well as that microbiotic balance, which is the root of, as you guys probably talk about in every episode, the root of our health in general and our resilience.
Andrea Wien: Yeah. And I do want to make one point just on the bio-individuality. For years, so I have celiac disease. I was diagnosed over 20 years ago, but there are some things that some people might find very healthy and are able to digest well, flaxseed being one of them. We always hear, you're constipated, eat flaxseed, it'll help with everything. Well, I tried to do that for years and it worked in the complete opposite direction for me. Like it made me more constipated. And so finally I had to come to terms with, okay, maybe there is something going on in my gut or something in my microbiome, but flaxseed just doesn't work for me, but chia seed works great. I feel amazing when I have that.
So I think when we're looking at these things, it's not enough to just say, well, everyone tells me that this should be good for me and so I'm going to keep pushing it. If you are in a place where you're trying new foods and some of them just don't agree with you, or they have the opposite effect, that's okay. We're all bio-individual. So what the experts say, doesn't necessarily always have to work for you.
Meghan Telpner: Yes, so important. And that's why, like I wish that I could say to everyone, I'm like, this is what you need to eat and you'll be optimally healthy. And that's what I stress so much in my course, in my program, because a lot of people come to our school with like this preconceived philosophy that this is the best way to eat. And I'm going to learn how to teach this to everyone and everyone has to eat this way. And it just doesn't work. And even celiac and early Crohn's are a little bit similar in that, one of the biggest challenges is nutrient deficiency. And the protocol for inflammatory bowel disease is a low residue diet, which is fiber-less.
And for some people, that might actually be the best way to go for a period of time until the gut can heal a little bit. But long-term on that protocol, you're not going to have the nutrition to actually build and repair. And it's similar with celiac, with all that villous atrophy, you have to be pretty gentle on it in the early stages, for sure when there's so much inflammation and damage happening to allow that to repair.
Andrea Wien: Definitely.
Meghan Telpner: And that is not the time to introduce massive amounts of ground flaxseeds or ground chia for many people, it's really looking at that person and how you feel on a daily basis.
Andrea Wien: Now, I'm going to throw my dad under the bus a little bit here. Sorry, dad.
Meghan Telpner: I do that all the time with mine.
Andrea Wien: Oh yeah. So my dad eats pretty much the standard American diet, which we can talk about later. But then he thinks just taking something like a Metamucil, these supplements that are quite literally just fiber in a package or in a drink that you can take and that's it, all is good. I've gotten my fiber intake for the day. My bowel movements are relatively normal. Is this added fiber as beneficial as something we might get from whole foods?
Meghan Telpner: Well, Metamucil is not going to undo the rest of your days eating. So there's so many other challenges to the standard American diet. But if you want me to narrow what I'm going to say to just the fiber, Metamucil is not the worst option out there for sure, but it's just not necessary because what's added to Metamucil is a bunch of additives and often artificial sweeteners and coloring agents and flavoring agents and stuff that is really not beneficial to our health in any capacity. There's no way to spin it any other way. So to replace the Metamucil, if your father is not ready to change his eating habits, then the next best thing is to use psyllium husk, which is predominantly what Metamucil is. But no one's going to pay that much for psyllium husk. The psyllium is really cheap, but it's incredibly effective. And if it's a flavoring thing, then add a little bit of your own, whole, unprocessed, not from concentrate juice to it, or even a squeeze of lemon if it's really a flavoring thing. There's just no need to take a Metamucil that has so many negative additives to it.
But that being said, if there's absolutely no other way, it's not the worst thing in the world, there's just way better, less chemical laden options basically. But really we got to work on the diet because a fiber supplement can be really beneficial to a lot of people, but again, no supplement is intended to replace a healthy diet and lifestyle, a supplement is intended to supplement it, to be an additional add-on when needed.
Andrea Wien: Yeah. I think that's something that a lot of people are starting to fall into as we move away from pharmaceuticals and into more supplements and nutraceuticals and things like that. You can't supplement your way out of a bad diet, you still have to do the basics.
Meghan Telpner: I feel like the only people who really get a pass are like college students who are like just in their dorms or eating cafeteria. But I'm like, there's a four year span between 18 and 22 that we're pretty resilient. And like, maybe we can get away with just taking the supplements. But at some point you do have to move beyond that.
Andrea Wien: I love that. Yeah. So you guys get a pass, you college kids, not that you have to take it, but it's out there. So we did have some listener questions that came through. We have talked about quite a few of these, but this question came up over and over and over, will eating foods with fiber make people gassy? Does it make you poop or plug you up? And I think we've kind of touched on that, but let's just maybe answer it. Will it make you gassy over the long-term, once your system is kind of established and used to having it?
Meghan Telpner: I don't think so. I mean, optimally, your body grows accustomed to it and you're fine, but the thing about will it make you poop or plug you up to, there's a massive nervous system component. We know the microbiome is directly connected to our brain and the whole gut brain access. So it's also really important to know that you need to make time to pooh. You need to relax. You need to get into the parasympathetic rest and digest mode. And very few people do that. It's not looking at your phone or watching the evening news or, it's like taking time to rest and relax so that, that circulation in your body can go to the digestive system. And that's in equal parts as important as fiber for getting that effective elimination.
Andrea Wien: Yeah. And this is where I'll just make a plug for the Squatty potty as well.
Meghan Telpner: [inaudible 00:35:22].
Andrea Wien: It's something that we've picked up, I don't know, probably about five years ago at this point. And it's been such a game changer, if anyone doesn't know what it is, I'll certainly link to it in the show notes. So the Squatty potty, and then on the other side of it, the bidet is something that's also completely changed our bathroom going habits.
Meghan Telpner: Oh, we wanted to install wall we call bum hose when we were renovating our bathroom. And it was getting too complicated to explain it to the plumbers and we didn't. But one of my few regrets in life is that we didn't install it.
Andrea Wien: My husband, he was very anti it and now that it's there, he's like, I can't go without it. I can't go outside of the house.
Meghan Telpner: So one of the things until people get their Squatty potty delivered, you can also use yoga blocks or even like a garbage bin or just a step stool. And it's basically the idea that you're elevating your legs up to support the proper anatomical position that humans were meant to poop in, which is your knees pulled up to support your intestines and put a little bit of pressure on your large intestine to help a full and complete evacuation.
Andrea Wien: Yeah. And anyone who's traveled may have seen this in other countries, in Southeast Asia or India or some other places where you actually squat to use the restroom. And so that is that same philosophy, obviously here in America, in Western societies, we have toilets that are raised off the ground. So this is just recreating that same position, but while you're sitting.
Meghan Telpner: Yeah, not just raised off the ground, the chair height toilet is a phenomenon I don't understand. And I'm five feet tall, so on one of those toilets, I can't actually touch the ground. Now everyone is picturing me sitting on a toilet with my feet dangling. So you're welcome everyone for that.
Andrea Wien: We never promised that all of the imagery that we would see in this podcast would be pretty. Now, another question that we had and this is on the flip side of what we've been talking about, not getting enough fiber, someone had asked how to avoid getting too much fiber on a mostly vegan or a completely vegan diet. Is that an issue that you see?
Meghan Telpner: I have not ever encountered anyone with that complaint. Typically on the vegan diet, the bigger concern is just the high carbohydrate load in general, but usually your body is adapted. And like you mentioned with tribes that can function on a hundred grams of fiber, your body does adapt. If there's any signs of things not functioning the way they should, that would be the only indicator, but on a plant-based whole foods diet, I think that everything should be operating as needed. And I don't know if that'd be a concern.
Andrea Wien: So maybe if someone is having those issues, we go back to the basics of the eating hygiene, slowing down when you eat, making sure you're chewing well enough, making sure you're staying hydrated, relaxing and having that parasympathetic state takeover when you do decide to go to the bathroom and feel that urge. So really kind of going maybe to some other things versus the fiber content.
Meghan Telpner: We have some built in mechanisms in our body that makes it very difficult to over eat fiber rich foods. Like no one really that I've ever heard of like binges on broccoli and like eats, like I couldn't stop. I was on like my sixth head of broccoli before I felt full, like that much fiber in your diet, like your belly feels painfully full before you can really overeat it.
Andrea Wien: Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. And I think everyone can relate to that. You're not eating copious amounts of fiber rich foods as you would with like potato chips, for example. Well, Meghan, this has been so helpful. I think it really gives people some good food for thought and helps to really crystallize some of these ideas about what we should be eating when we're talking about fiber. If people want to, as we mentioned, read some of your work, look at your recipes, learn about the course that you do, where can they find you?
Meghan Telpner: My work is all on meghantelpner.com. And I do have a post called, is Metamucil Safe? So if anyone wants that, you search my name and Metamucil, it will come up for sure. And anything about the Academy of Culinary Nutrition and our 14 week certification program is available at culinarynutrition.com. Registration is open now for our September 2020 term. So if anyone is interested, wants to lead the conversation on health that is coming, that is part of what we're all experiencing in the world right now, join us in September. You are an excellent example of how you can take this information and really build a business around it and apply it in a professional setting and in your own life. And perhaps right now in our own lives, taking control of our health through the food we eat is one of the most powerful things we can do.
Andrea Wien: Absolutely. And I will just do a plug for myself for your course. I thought I learned so much from it. I thought it was so helpful. I took it at the beginning of kind of my wellness career journey and it was really eye-opening. And I think similar to Josh, we talked about his course a couple episodes ago, but Meghan also is just such a dynamic instructor and the recipes that you had us try when we first kind of looked at them, I was like, ah, I don't know. I don't think this is going to be great. And my husband and I were blown away with-
Meghan Telpner: Thank you.
Andrea Wien: …all of the things that we ate and made. And they're now part of our regular repertoire. And I'm constantly going back to your cookbook and to the course materials that we went through. So anyone who's on the fence about taking it, it's an amazing program and you will learn so much and really learn how to cook for yourself and your family in a way that's very supportive of health. So I couldn't give it more of a glowing recommendation.
Meghan Telpner: Thank you. Can I get like that sound bite, so I could just share it with everyone? I'm just kidding.
Andrea Wien: Yeah, absolutely.
Meghan Telpner: Well, thank you. And thank you for the amazing work that you do and it's so great how you're able to break this down for people and educate and empower others to really understand what's going on inside. And so thank you for everything you do.
Andrea Wien: Thanks, Meghan. I love this little love fest in our time of Corona.
Meghan Telpner: More love.
Andrea Wien: Have a great day, we'll talk to you soon.
Meghan Telpner: Thank you.
Andrea Wien: Thanks so much for listening. We mentioned quite a few resources in this episode, which you can find by going to biohmblog.com and clicking the podcast tab. That's BIOHM, B-I-O-H-Mblog.com. Meghan also has a free training for anyone who's interested, you'll find that link on the show notes page as well. This episode has been powered by BIOHM Health, the first probiotic to address both bacterial and fungal communities in your gut. Until next time, I'm Andrea Wien.
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