Dietary fiber is the part of the plants we eat that we cannot fully digest, and although we do not ultimately keep it in our bodies it is still necessary for good health, but what is it really?
There are two types of fiber, and most high fiber food contain both types.
Soluble Fiber: Is found mainly in plant cells, helps to lower cholesterol, and is found in fruits, vegetables, oat bran, barley, seed husks, flax seed, dried beans, lentils, peas, soymilk and soy products.
Insoluble Fiber: Is part of the structure of plant cell walls. This is the type of fiber that helps with digestion and aids conditions such as constipation. Good sources include wheat bran, corn bran, rice bran, the skins of fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, dried beans and wholegrain foods.
If you’ve been looking for a way towards a high octane diet, you’ll find fiber to be exactly what you need. Even though research has shown fiber to be powerful, many people aren’t taking this nutrient seriously.
So what does fiber actually do?
As fiber goes through your body it keeps your digestive system healthy, and lowers blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels. It also lowers your risk of colon cancer, heart disease and digestive problems, while improving blood sugar in people with diabetes.
It also helps the body to eliminate cholesterol by binding it in the digestive tract. For thousands of years, fiber has been used to stop constipation. Also, and perhaps most importantly, fiber is the thing that makes you feel full when you are eating.
It can control weight gain by helping to monitor your portion size.
How Can I Get more Fiber?
Fiber is present in many common foods and it is surprisingly easy to include healthy levels of fiber in your diet. Some easy ways to increase your dietary fiber include:
o Legumes are a great source of fiber so try to include legumes in as many dishes as you can. Why not try nachos or burritos with kidney beans instead of mince?
Choose whole grain breads, cereals and crackers, and brown rice rather than their white alternatives, as these are higher in fiber.
o Add raisins, bananas, or strawberries to your breakfast cereal or why not eat them as a snack.
o Fiber is present in most fruits and veggies so try to have these as part of every meal, or whenever you can.
o Most fiber can be found in the skins of fruits and vegetables so try to eat them with the skins on whenever possible.
o Most popular foods don’t have enough fiber. If you like the more popular foods, you probably need to increase your intake.
o Grains offer the most fiber. This is actually a plant matter that we cannot digest. The best sources are whole grains and concentrated grain products.
o Kids need fiber as well. Children that are older than 2 years of age should consume a daily intake. Kids are most receptive to fiber found in fruits, vegetables, and even fortified breakfast cereals.
o More fiber needs more water. In order to keep it moving through your digestive tract, you’ll need to consume a lot of water. With your diet of fiber, you’ll need eight or more glasses of water every day.
o Fiber cannot be cooked out. When you cook your fruits and vegetables, don’t worry about cooking the fiber out, as it stays. The fiber found in fruits and vegetables aren’t just in the skin or in the peel.
o You can get enough fiber. If you eat more than 50 grams in a day, you can get diarrhea and bloating, which can interfere with your body’s absorption of other key minerals.
o Getting the right amount of fiber in your diet doesn’t have to be hard. Even though you may think so, getting the amount you need isn’t very hard to do. All you have to do is eat the right foods and you’ll be well on your way to a fiber rich lifestyle.
As one of the key ingredients to healthy eating, fiber is something you don’t want to skip. It can serve many different purposes, which were covered above.
If you aren’t getting enough fiber in your diet – you should do something about it now instead of waiting until it is too late.