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).fruit fiber sources

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. 

 

Health Benefits

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

 

CanceR 

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.

 

DiabeteS

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. 

 

Heart health 

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.  

 

Digestive health

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.

 

Skin healtH 

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. 

 

Healthy Weight

Fiber helps you feel full sooner and longer. This results in you eating less, losing weight and maintaining a healthy weighthealthy weight fiber sources 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. 

whole grain fiber sourcesBreakfast 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.

 

2. FRUITS

Fruit is easily added to your breakfast and is one of the healthiest fiber sources. Add some strawberries, blueberries or fruit fiber sourcesraspberries 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. 

 

3. VEGETABLES

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.

vegetables fiber sourcesBury 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.

 

4. SUPPLEMENTS

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.

supplement fiber sourcesSupplements 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.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

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

 

Whole Wheat Bread

Let’s face it – the aroma of bread baking is wonderful. Homemade whole wheat bread is much better than store bought bread. When baking bread yourself, there are no preservatives and you have total control over the ingredients. 

One kind of bread that is generally a nutritious and versatile addition to a healthy diet is whole wheat. The USDA recommends making half your grains whole and whole wheat bread can help you do that. You might ask why whole wheat is healthier than white bread.

Whole wheat bread is made from flour that contains the entire wheat kernel, including the bran and germ instead of kernels that have been refined and overly processed. It is in the minimal processing that wheat retains the most nutrients, including protein, fiber, B vitamins, antioxidants, and trace minerals (iron, zinc, copper, and magnesium). Leaving the wheat kernel intact makes for a less processed, more nutritious bread. Additionally, a diet rich in whole grains has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and some forms of cancer.

 

Today’s recipe

Whole Wheat BreadThis recipe is for an incredibly healthy and oh so tasty whole wheat bread that will make you never want to buy store bought bread again. Additionally, the recipe is extremely versatile, so you can tweak it to your tastes and your moods. For equipment, I use a bread maker, but this recipe can easily be adapted to standard baking in the oven as well.  

LIQUID

For liquid, you can use water if you like. Typically, I either add some coconut milk powder to the water or mix it with some oat milk  (which I make myself using this recipe) for some added nutrition and flavor.  If you are not vegan, you could also substitute standard milk for the water.  

FAT & SWEETENERS

Sometimes I like some sweetness in my bread. This particular day when filming I decided it was a sweet sort of day. The recipe calls for vegan honey. You could easily use standard wildflower honey or not include honey at all.  This is completely optional.

I like to avoid as much fat as I can so I chose to go fat free in my recipe. Typically, I substitute unsweetened applesauce for the oil. In my opinion,  applesauce is sweet enough on its own without added sugars. If I do add sweetener to my bread, I usually choose coconut palm sugar, which has a low glycemic index, minimizing any blood sugar spikes. If you choose to use oil instead, you could do that instead of the applesauce.  

FLOUR

When it comes to flour, I like to mix them. In my experience, a mix of whole wheat and bread flours tends to give it a smoother texture. The flours are something that can also be mixed around. You could easily incorporate smelt or coconut flour in the mix as well. As long as the total amount of flour stays the same, feel free to experiment.

RISING

You might notice that I add vital wheat gluten to my bread recipe. This is an optional component but I found that when included the rise is much better. For yeast I use a red yeast. You could use a standard yeast as well if you choose.

ADD-INS

Sometimes I will add a smidge of vanilla and cinnamon into the mix for variety also. If you wanted a more savory bread you could add in some seasonings. Might I suggest some rosemary, basil and parsley? Perhaps a bit of oregano? The possibilities are truly endless. 

THOUGHTS…

I can never resist taking a slice right out of the bread maker when it is still hot and steamy. I spread some plant-based spread on it and perhaps a bit of jam and it is like heaven. If you try the recipe, please feel free to leave me some comments to let me know how it came out. If you do some substitutions and additions please share. I would love to hear about it!  

The complete recipe is below. Here is the video!

       

Yield: 1 Loaf

Whole Wheat Bread

Whole Wheat Bread

There is nothing like homemade bread. This recipe is extremely versatile and makes a tasty bread that is heart healthy with whole grains, no fat, no eggs and no dairy but all the great taste!

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours
Additional Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 4 hours 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cup warm water or milk 
  • 1 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 cup honey or honey alternative
  • 2 TB oil or applesauce
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 TB vital wheat gluten (optional)
  • 1 1/2 tsp yeast
  • 1 TB sweetener (optional)

Instructions

  1. Add water or water/milk mixture to baking pan
  2. Add honey or honey alternative
  3. Add oil or applesauce
  4. Cover liquid with the flour or flour mixture
  5. Sprinkle salt on top
  6. Sprinkle vital wheat gluten on top
  7. Add sweetener (optional)
  8. Sprinkle yeast on top, making sure it does not get wet
  9. Put baking pan in bread machine, lock down and set it
  10. Wait for the bread machine to make bread
  11. Remove from bread pan
  12. Allow to cool for 10 minutes
  13. Slice and serve
  14. Store in ziploc bag to keep fresh

Notes

* I sometimes combine non-dairy milk with the water or add some coconut milk powder to it. The recipe works fine with just water, but the creaminess of a milk adds something really nice to the bread.

* In lieu of the honey I use a vegan honey alternative. If you are not on a vegan diet, feel free to use honey.

* Oil is not needed. Applesauce makes a nice substitute. I use unsweetened applesauce. It adds to the texture of the bread and gives it a little sweetness.

* A mixture of flours works best for the texture of the bread. You can use whole wheat flour and omit the bread flour if you choose (it will be less smooth in texture but it is perfectly fine), or you can combine the two as long as there is at least half of the whole wheat flour (3 1/2 cups total flour) the bread will be fine.

* The vital wheat gluten is optional but I find it makes a much better bread when it is included.

* The sweetener is entirely optional. When using a sweetener I typically choose raw coconut palm sugar.

* I use a raw red yeast for my bread. Standard yeast will do as well, just use regular yeast and not fast acting yeast.

* Make sure the liquids are completely covered by the dry ingredients before adding the yeast. The yeast should not get wet when first adding to the bread maker pan

* This recipe can also be used for baking in the oven. I just appreciate the convenience of my bread maker.

RECOMMENDED INGREDIENT LINKS:

Nutrition Information:

Yield: 20 Serving Size: 1 Slice
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 80Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 40mgCarbohydrates: 19gFiber: 2gSugar: 4gProtein: 3g

* this information is an estimate