One Small Change: Fantastic FiberWednesday, February 27, 2013
By Gail Watson, contributing blogger
Fiber is one of those nutrients that we all know we need. But what exactly is fiber, why is it so important and how can we get enough?
The term “fiber” refers to the carbohydrates in food that aren’t digested into your body. Instead, they run through your digestive tract providing many benefits. Fiber is found in plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, and lentils.
There are numerous types of fiber, but the main two are soluble and insoluble. Soluble fibers absorb the water in your intestines, turning into a gel as it goes through your digestive tract. It helps slow things down, giving you a sense of fullness. The slower digestion process also helps regulate spikes in blood sugar levels (which is great for diabetics).Insoluble fiber, mostly found in grains, adds bulk to stool, which helps keep you regular.
The Health Aspects
Fiber helps improve your overall well-being by promoting a healthy gut. Studies show that a high fiber diet helps reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases, such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Eating enough fiber can also help lower cholesterol, decrease the risk of colon cancer, and aid in the treatment of various diseases of the stomach and intestines (like diverticulosis and reflux). It can also help keep you regular, alleviating constipation.
The daily recommended dose of fiber is about 25 grams for women and 30 grams for men. Today, the typical American consumes about 15 grams per day– not nearly enough! The culprit is mainly from the high consumption of processed foods and refined grains, along with a lack of fruits and veggies.
Too Much of a Good Thing?
Adding more fiber into your diet can definitely help improve your health, but too much too soon may cause discomfort like bloating or flatulence. It may take a little time for your gut to adjust to the added fiber, so start out slow and be sure to drink plenty of water.
This week’s goal: Add more fiber to your diet
Adding more fiber into your diet can improve your health, so why not make an effort to bulk it up?
- Eat Fruit: Replace fruit juices with whole fruits. For more ways to incorporate more fruits, check out my previous tips.
- Ice the White: Opt for brown rice and whole wheat bread and pass on the white.
- Whole Grain Cereal: Switch to oatmeal, or whole grain cold cereals for breakfast. No time? Prepare a pot while making dinner and reheat in the microwave the next morning. Add some nuts, seeds and berries to up your fiber intake even more.
- Nix the Chips: Love a crunchy snack? Munch on carrots, peppers, broccoli, celery or cucumbers instead of chips.
- Bean Power: Toss some beans into your salad 2 to 3 times a week. You can even create a meatless meal like a 3 bean chili or bean burrito.
TELL ME: How will you add more fiber to you diet?Filed under Healthy Eating, Nutrition Basics | Comments: more