The Importance of Fiber
“You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces – just good food from fresh ingredients.” – Julia Child
Fiber, the stringy stuff that holds fruits and vegetables together, is also found in seeds and in the outer covering of grain, called bran. Bran is the part of the grain that is ground up and used in whole wheat flour and whole grain cereal, but is removed from white flour. Simply put, fiber is found in the flesh of fresh, whole, natural foods and plays an important role in the overall health of your body. There are two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble:
Insoluble fiber helps move waste through the intestines so it can be easily eliminated from the body. This type of fiber is found in vegetables, nuts and bran.
Holds water like a sponge and keeps food soft as it moves through the intestines so that waste products can be easily eliminated.
Insoluble job is to “move things along” it promotes regularity and has been shown to decrease your risk of colon cancer and diverticulitis.
Doesn’t readily dissolve in water cellulose etc. things like wheat bran, whole wheat breads and cereals, legumes, fruits and vegetables. Some of these have both soluble and insoluble fiber.
Soluble fiber dissolves in water, turning the food in the intestines into a gel form. This helps nutrients absorb at a slow, steady rate and also makes you feel full. This type of fiber is found in dried beans and peas, citrus fruits, carrots, and barley.
Turns foods in the intestines into a gel from which nutrients can be absorbed at a slow, steady rate.
Readily dissolves in water. Pectin’s, gums etc. found in things like oats, brown rice, beans, seeds, vegetables.
Helps decrease blood cholesterol, therefore reducing risks of heart disease. And slows the absorption of glucose.
Here are four reasons you should care about fiber:
Fiber helps bowel movements by increasing the weight and size of stool, making it easier to pass. It also encourages the growth of good bacteria in the gut, which keeps harmful bacteria away. Say goodbye to diarrhea and constipation!
Fiber helps lower cholesterol because it carries dietary cholesterol out of the body.
Fiber helps satisfy the appetite more because high-fiber foods require more chewing and they stay in the stomach longer. This also helps curb overeating. Helps you feel more full.
Fiber helps steady blood sugar and prevents the rollercoaster of high and low blood sugar levels which can impact your mood and energy level.
Need more fiber ideas? Here are Dr. Sears’ ABC’S of favorite fibers:
A – apricots, apples, avocados, artichokes
B – beans, bran, berries
C – cereals (with 3 grams of fiber per serving)
S – salads and raw veggies
According to the Institute of Medicine, women should be eating 25 grams of fiber per day and men should be eating 38 grams of fiber per day. These amounts decrease to 30 grams per day and 21 grams per day, respectively, for adults over 50 years old.
3 Fiber-Boosting Tips
Eat it, don’t drink it. The peel on fruits and vegetables is where you’ll find the fiber, so eat it! The fiber is lost when you juice or peel the skin off the produce.
Use whole grains. Fiber is found in the bran of grains, which is removed from white flour and processed grains, so opt for whole grains.
Choose a high fiber cereal. Always check the nutrition facts label when purchasing packaged foods and pick a cereal that has at least 3 grams of fiber per serving.
Save the tops of beets and use them in salads
Use the tops of carrots as well.
Save the peels and ends to make broth
Caution - If you are new to a lot of fiber, take it slow. It can cause severe bloating, cramping, gas, and other discomforts. Gradually add them in over several weeks and drink lots of water.
Want to eat more veggies? Try the Eating Well Magazine Challenge
Try these recipes to get started:
If you’re ready to eat more nutritious fiber, but need help getting started, contact me to schedule a pantry makeover – the first step to a healthier you.