Fiber is important and many of us do not get nearly enough of it in our diet, despite how many easy fiber sources we have access to. There is a common misconception that fiber is just out there to keep you regular. There are many other health benefits to fiber beyond helping you “go.” Fiber can help with weight loss, can improve your complexion, can lower your risk of stroke, diabetes and heart disease as well as possibly help to prevent colon cancer.
Today I could like to let you know about some fiber sources to help you add it to your healthy diet. Fiber is one of the things about a plant-based diet that is so good. The whole plant foods included offer a great source of fiber. Fiber also helps your body digest food more effectively, reducing your risk of many diseases. We hear about gut bacteria often nowadays. One of the ways to keep that gut bacteria healthy is by adding fiber to your diet. How do you do that, though? There is so much information to navigate and this article will help you navigate it more easily.
What is fiber?
Let’s get beyond associating fiber with digestive health and bowel function. Eating foods high in dietary fiber can do so much more than keep you regular. Adding fiber to your diet can lower your risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, improve the health of your skin, and help you lose weight. It might even help prevent colon cancer.
Roughage is another word for fiber. Fiber is the part of plant-based foods such as grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and beans that the body cannot break down. The fact that it passes through your body undigested is how it keeps your digestive system clean and healthy, easing bowel movements, and flushing cholesterol and harmful carcinogens out of the body.
Types of Fiber
There are two types of fiber – soluble and insoluble.
As you can guess, soluble fiber dissolves in water. It is responsible for controlling your blood sugar and reducing cholesterol so it is a good idea to include it in your diet. Some of the soluble fiber sources include oatmeal, buts, barley, beans, and fruits (apples, citrus, pears and berries).
Insoluble fiber doesn’t dissolve. This type of fiber is the fiber used to prevent constipation (also the type included in products such as Metamucil). Some of the insoluble fiber sources include whole grain cereals, whole grain breads, whole grain pastas, vegetables (such as tomatoes, celery and carrots).
There are numerous sources of both soluble and insoluble fiber. As a rule, the highest fiber is found in food that has been processed the least. Foods that include refined flour do not contain much fiber at all. These include items such as cakes and pastries, white rice and white bread. Dairy, meat and sugar also contain no fiber.
Fiber has been touted too much as just a way to remedy constipation. The vast health benefits are not prominently represented so many people are unaware just how important adding some fiber sources to your diet can be. Eating a diet high in fiber has so many added benefits, including adding a boost to your immune system, improving how you feel, your skin health and your health in general.
Health Benefits of Fiber
Including enough high-fiber foods in your diet will help to lower your risk of developing mouth, stomach, pharynx and other cancers of the digestive system. There is also some preliminary research suggesting fiber can also reduce your risk of colorectal cancer.
Both types of fiber offer some health benefits related to diabetes. Soluble sugar helps to improve blood sugar levels and helps your body absorb sugar more slowly. Insoluble fiber helps lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Soluble fiber significantly helps to lower bad cholesterol (LDL) levels, which in turn helps keep your heart healthy. Stroke and Coronary Artery Disease risk can also be reduced by a high fiber diet. Additional heart benefits include a reduction of inflammation, lower blood pressure, raising good cholesterol (HDL) levels and the loss of extra stomach fat.
Insoluble fiber helps to bulk up stools, making them easier to pass. The benefit to bowel movements can relieve both diarrhea and constipation. Eating fiber has more digestive health benefits, however. Eating fiber can reduce your risk of gallstones, kidney stones, hemorrhoids and can alleviate irritable bowel syndrome. Fiber can also reduce your risk of diverticulitis. Some studies have also determined that your risk of ulcers and GERD can also be reduced by a high fiber diet.
The health of your skin can improve greatly by a diet rich in fiber. Fiber can help reduce yeast and fungus in your system, lessening outbreaks of acne. Psyllium husk is a great fiber source for flushing your system of toxins.
Fiber helps you feel full sooner and longer. This results in you eating less, losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight for your body. Cutting calories is easy when adding fiber, since most fiber sources such as fruits and vegetables, tend to be lower in calories.
Fruits are high fiber foods and give you plenty of energy. Fiber can streamline your metabolism, lessening blood sugar spikes and drops that can typically leave you tired and can give you cravings of less healthy food.
As well as aiding digestion and preventing constipation, fiber adds bulk to your diet, a key factor in both losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight. Adding bulk can help you feel full sooner. Since fiber stays in the stomach longer than other foods, that feeling of fullness will stay with you much longer, helping you to eat less. High-fiber foods such as fruits and vegetables tend to be low in calories, so by adding fiber to your diet, it’s easier to cut calories.
For optimal health, you should eat 21-38 grams of fiber at a minimum. Fruits vegetables and whole grains can all help you achieve that goal and start feeling healthier.
EASY FIBER SOURCES FOR A HEALTHY DIET
1. WHOLE GRAINS
A few easy modifications to your diet might be all you need to incorporate more grains. Whole grains are one of the most beneficial fiber sources. Be sure to choose only whole grain options, since processed and refined foods are much lower in fiber.
Breakfast is a great time to add whole grains to your day. Choose a whole grain cereal as a starter. There are some great choices out there! You can also add some unprocessed wheat bran to your cereal or to your smoothie or even to oatmeal. A few tablespoons goes a long way.
Use whole grain varieties of breads and pastas and use brown rice instead of white rice to boost your fiber intake. These are all great fiber sources to add to your diet. You will find yourself eating much less and feeling much fuller, so it will also help reduce calories.
Baking is easy to add great fiber to. Substitute whole grain flours in place of the white all purpose flour. Whole wheat, smelt and coconut flors are all great fiber sources. Almond meal is also a great option for adding to your home baking. When baking breads, just be aware that whole grains will take longer to rise. Add some time to your rise and it will all be fine.
Muffins, cookies and cakes can all benefit from some fiber also. Wheat bran or crushed whole grain cereal can be added as a fiber source. If you are gluten-free, psyllium husk is a great fiber source to add to your baked goods. It is heaven good in pizza crust!
Another of the great whole grain fiber sources is flaxseed. Flaxseed is rich in healthy omega-3 fatty acids offering a great benefit to your heart health. Ground flax seed is easily incorporated in cereal, oatmeal, yogurt or even applesauce.
Fruit is easily added to your breakfast and is one of the healthiest fiber sources. Add some strawberries, blueberries or raspberries to your yogurt to cereal. Keep fruits in the refrigerator for a quick sweet snack. Keep pre-made smoothie bags in the freezer to blend up a quick healthy meal on the go.
Be sure to choose whole, fresh fruits rather than juices (which actually have more calories in them). Unprocessed fruit will retain more fiber. Apple peels contain some of the great fiber, also, so don’t skip out on the peel when eating apples.
Fruit makes an easy and tasty dessert. Make it more decadent with a little whipped cream if you like.
Keep healthy veggies on hand all the time. Keep some baby carrots and celery in the refrigerator as quick snacks. Keep some bagged sliced veggies in the freezer for say additions to your recipes. Include some healthy kale or spinach in ready-to-go smoothie bags in the freezer for a quick power breakfast or meal on the go.
Bury some veggies in your meals. Spinach can easily be added to spots and tomato sauce. Add extra vegetables to your soups and stews.
Don’t toss the peels. Many vegetables have edible peels that contain a lot of nutrients and fiber. Eat the peel on your potatoes, carrots and other vegetables with edible skins.
Add lots of goodies to your salad. Salads are easy to add plenty of vegetables to. They also offer the opportunity to add some nuts, seeds and even fruit.
Legumes are great fiber sources. Be sure to incorporate them in your healthy diet. Read 8 Tasty Legumes to learn more about legumes.
Chose fiber-rich snacks. Roasted chick peas, nuts, seeds and raw vegetables all make great snacks as well as being great fiber sources.
Supplements are another way to add fiber to your diet. Whole food sources are best, but if you are having trouble incorporating enough into your diet perhaps a supplement might be beneficial.
Supplements come in dissolvable powders, chewable tablets, powder that you sprinkle on food and even cookies. There are some considerations with getting your fiber from a supplement, however.
High fiber foods will offer many more vitamins, minerals and nutrients than a supplement
Supplements can have interactions with your prescription medication
Fiber supplements will not fill you up like a fiber rich diet will
Fiber supplements can affect your blood sugar levels, offering some challenges to diabetics.
Be sure to boost your fluid intake when adding fiber to your diet. You will need more water to process the fiber efficiently. Fiber absorbs water, which depletes it from your system. Drinking more water will eliminate that issue.
When first transitioning to a high fiber diet, you might experience some gastronomical discomforts such as gas, bloating, cramps and looser stool. This is all a normal part of your body adjusting to the added fiber. Once your body is adjusted (this happens fairly quickly) these discomforts go away.
There are a multitude of fiber sources to choose from, making it simple to start eating a more fiber-rich diet. The health benefits of fiber are wonderful and the whole foods you will eat as part of a healthy diet will make you feel great, boost your energy and improve your health.
Author: Angela Cook