You’ve heard countless times that fiber is beneficial to your health. So we ask, are you aware of how much you need? Do you know if you are even getting enough every day? Better yet, do you know what fiber really is?
If you answered no to any of these questions, no worries. Let’s get you hip.
Did you know that the average woman only consumes 15 grams of fiber a day? That’s about half of the recommended amount. Yikes. Women need at least 25 grams of fiber everyday. That’s not too bad. In fact, it is very doable.
Dietary fiber includes the parts of plant foods your body can’t digest or absorb. Other food components such as proteins, carbohydrates and even fats are broken down and absorbed by your body. In the case of fiber, it passes through your stomach, small intestines and colon and out of your body.
Dietary fiber is found mainly in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. Fiber is best known for its ability to prevent or relieve constipation. Foods containing fiber can provide other health benefits as well, such as helping to maintain a healthy weight and lowering your risk of diabetes or even heart disease.
Are you ready to get more fiber into your diet? Let’s get back to the basics with 5 things you should know about fiber.
1. There are 2 types of fiber you should be consuming.
Fiber is commonly classified as soluble, which dissolves in water, or insoluble, which doesn’t dissolve.
Soluble fiber. This type of fiber dissolves in water to form a gel-like material. It can help lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels. Soluble fiber is found in food such as oats, barley, peas, citrus fruits, apples and carrots.
Insoluble fiber. This type of fiber promotes the movement of material through your digestive system and increases stool bulk. This is great for those of you who may struggle with constipation or irregular stools. Foods that contain this type include whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts, beans and vegetables, such as cauliflower, green beans and potatoes.
Most plant-based foods, such as oatmeal and beans, contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. However, the amount of each type varies in different plant foods. To receive the greatest health benefit, eat a wide variety of high-fiber foods.
2. Go for whole foods first, then supplements if needed.
Whole foods rather than fiber supplements are generally better. Fiber supplements don’t provide the variety of fibers, vitamins, minerals and other beneficial nutrients that foods do. Some people may still need a fiber supplement if dietary changes aren’t sufficient or if they have certain medical conditions, such as constipation, diarrhea or irritable bowel syndrome. Check with your doctor before taking any fiber supplements.
3. Juice is great, but don’t depend on it. Get your whole fruit servings in.
Eating whole fruit has more fiber than juice. A good trick to getting more fiber into your day is by blending fruit into a smoothie. Be sure to leave the edible skins in. They pack the most fiber.
4. Give your meals a fiber boost with these easy tips.
Start off by making half the grains you consume, “whole”. Try out whole grain breads, whole wheat pastas and get fancy with some of our favorites like sorghum and brown rice. You can even beans to canned soup or a green salad. If you are into baking, try adding crushed bran cereal, unprocessed wheat bran or uncooked oatmeal to muffins, cakes and cookies. For a snack, go for some nuts, slice some bell peppers with your favorite dip or have a fruit. Be sure to incorporate vegetables like dark leafy greens at lunch and dinner time. Fiber-full meals are the best meals.
5. Fiber is the bomb because of all of its health benefits.
Here a few health benefits of fiber:
Normalizes bowel movements.
Helps maintain bowel health.
Lowers cholesterol levels.
Helps control blood sugar levels.
Aids in achieving healthy weight.