Following a healthy and balanced diet is always important, however, during pregnancy, good nutrition is even more important to support the health of mom and baby.
One of the most important parts of a nutritious diet is fiber – especially for pregnancy.
Continue reading this article to understand what fiber is, why it’s important for pregnant moms, and how to ensure adequate fiber in your diet.
What Is Fiber?
Fiber is a non-digestible nutrient found in many foods. Although we cannot digest fiber, it is quite important for our health.
There are two main types of fiber: soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and helps feed the good gut bacteria. Soluble fiber is found in foods like beans, oats, potatoes, and apples.
On the other hand, insoluble fiber does not digest in water and instead helps speed the transit of stool through the intestines. Insoluble fiber is found in many vegetables and whole grains.
It’s important to ensure you’re including both soluble and insoluble fibers in your diet for optimal health.
Why Is Fiber Important for Pregnant Moms?
During pregnancy, it’s especially important to ensure adequate nutrition. The body has higher needs to support the growth of a baby, which is why there are many nutrients that need to be consumed in higher quantities – fiber being one of them. What’s more, it’s been found that pregnant women may be lacking in fiber. Here are the three main reasons why it’s important to make sure you’re eating enough fiber during pregnancy:
1. Fiber Eases Constipation
During pregnancy, it’s common to experience constipation, which can be unpleasant and uncomfortable. Pregnancy leads to an increase in the hormone progesterone, which actually causes a slight relaxation of the intestines. As a result, intestines move slower, leading to constipation.
Because of the common bouts of constipation in pregnant women, including adequate dietary fiber becomes even more important. After all, one of the main benefits of fiber is reducing constipation (1).
But how exactly does consuming fiber ease constipation in pregnant women?
In the intestines, fiber has the ability to draw in water, allowing for stool to pass through more easily. Plus, fiber can help provide bulk to stool, which also aids in easing constipation (2).
2. Fiber Promotes Heart Health
Consuming adequate fiber during pregnancy is also important for promoting heart health.
Fiber intake can help lower cholesterol levels, which reduces the risk of developing heart disease. In particular, soluble fibers found in beans or oats can lower “bad” cholesterol.
Plus, eating enough fiber helps reduce the risk of preeclampsia, which is a complication in pregnancy that is characterized by high blood pressure (3).
3. Fiber is Beneficial for Lactation
Even though more research is needed, there is some evidence to suggest that consuming adequate fiber can help improve the composition of breast milk.
It’s speculated that moms who include healthy fibers in their diets can actually directly modify the composition of breast milk. However, more research is definitely needed to better understand the relationship between fiber intake and breast milk composition (4).
How to Add More Fiber to Your Diet
Most people would benefit from adding more fiber to their daily routines. For optimal health, it’s recommended that men consume about 38 grams of fiber daily, and women consume about 25 grams of fiber daily. However, only about five percent of people in the United States are consuming the recommended daily intake.
Luckily, there are many easy ways to add more fiber to your diet.
You may choose to increase your intake of fiber through dietary sources, or you may choose to incorporate a daily fiber supplement to ensure adequate intake.
To increase your fiber intake through foods it’s best to incorporate more plant foods such as vegetables, fruits, beans, seeds, and whole grains. Some of the foods highest in fiber include dark leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables like brussels sprouts or broccoli, berries, chia or flax seeds, avocado, and oats, to name a few. Unless you are planning out your meals and cooking at home on a daily basis, meeting the recommended amount of fiber can be quite challenging. Therefore, taking a fiber supplement can be an easy way to boost your daily fiber intake.
Pregnant women, in particular, may benefit from a fiber supplement, because it can just help simplify their busy routine. When choosing a fiber supplement, it’s important to choose one with no artificial ingredients or additives. Naked Fiber is one of the best gut health supplements that contain only one ingredient: naturally dehydrated baobab.
Baobab is a fruit that’s grown in Southern Africa and is known for its impressive fiber content. In just one serving, you’ll get nearly 20% of your daily fiber needs. You can simply mix in a scoop with any beverage you like, or add it to cereal or baked goods.
The recipe below is one way to have a healthy breakfast that is both tasty and rich in fiber.
Fiber-Rich Banana Oat Pancakes
- 2 medium ripe bananas
- 2 eggs
- 2 scoops of Naked Nutrition fiber supplement
- ½ cup milk of choice
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cups rolled oats
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp salt
- Cooking spray
- Add all ingredients to a blender and blend at high speed for about 1 minute.
- Heat up a pan over medium heat and lightly coat with cooking spray. Once the pan is hot, add about ¼ cup of batter to the pan. Cook for about 2-4 minutes until the pancake is slightly puffy on the sides.
- Flip the pancake and cook until it’s golden brown. Adjust the heat as needed.
- Feel free to add fillings of your choice such as berries or bananas. Top with maple syrup, a dash of cinnamon, and some chopped walnuts, as desired.
Author & Registered Dietitian:
Ashley Sobel, MS, RD
Ashley Sobel is a Registered Dietitian based in New York City. She obtained her Master’s degree in clinical nutrition from New York University. Although she works with many populations, her expertise lies in digestive health and eating disorders. Ashley uses an evidence-based approach that integrates gentle nutrition and lifestyle strategies to address the root cause, helping people create mindful and sustainable habits to support their goals.