When you read anything about fiber, what is the first thing you think about, honestly? Could it be that you remember that fruits, vegetables and whole grains are great sources of fiber? Probably not. When I think of fiber the first thing that comes to mind is “keeping the body regular”. Or at least that is what my mother always said, while my grandmother always nagged “eat more fiber”. Until this year I never listened, now I wish I would have started paying attention years ago.
Now I know that getting fiber into your diet is not that difficult after all. For years the only way I thought I could get fiber was to drink Metamucil like Grandma. Not the case. Once you understand fiber and know where to find it, you can’t blow it. Promise…
What is fiber anyways?
Dietary fiber, or roughage or bulk, includes all parts of plant foods that your body can’t digest or absorb. Unlike other food components such as fats, proteins or carbohydrates that your body can break down and absorb, fiber isn’t digested by your body. Leaving it to pass through your digestive tract and into your colon.
Benefits of eating a high-fiber diet
*Helps with weight loss– a high-fiber diet tends to make a meal feel larger and linger longer, so you stay full for a greater amount of time.Not to mention to usually have fewer calories for the same volume of food.
*Prevents constipation– It’s all about the poop people. You see, fiber increases the weight and size of your stool and softens it, making it easier to pass and therefore preventing constipation. If you have loose stools, fiber may also help to solidify the stool because it absorbs water and adds bulk to stool. (nice huh?)
*Less digestive conditions-higher fiber can help reduce risk of irritable bowel syndrome and other issues such as hemorrhoids.
*Lowers cholesterol levels-Soluble fiber found in beans, oats, flaxseed and oat bran may help lower total blood cholesterol levels by lowering your LDL or “bad” cholesterol.
*Controls blood sugars-Fiber can slow the absorption of sugar, which for people with diabetes, can help improve blood sugar levels. A high-fiber diet may also reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
How much fiber do I need?
The National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine, which provides science-based advice on matters of medicine and health, gives the following daily recommendations for adults:
Women: 50 and younger- 25 grams 50+ 21 grams
Men: 50 and younger- 38 grams 50+ 30 grams
So we all know what it is, what is does and how much we need, right? The only thing left now is to find which foods are packed full of fiber. Some of the best choices are whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and legumes. Keep in mind that refined or processed foods such as fruit juice, white bread and pasta, and non-whole-grain cereals are lower in fiber content.
It’s all about reading labels and eating smart. The labels and knowledge are in your hands, don’t blow it. Look for more great tips on fiber later this week. We will compare foods and give you tips on how to fit fiber in your diet.