You’ve probably heard over and over again that you should eat more fiber. The American Heart Association recommends a total of 25 grams of fiber consumption for individuals every day.
Fiber is a component of plants-based foods that cannot be broken down or digested by the body, unlike carbohydrate, proteins and you know the rest.
There are two kinds of fiber; soluble fiber and insoluble fiber.
Soluble fiber is soluble in water during digestion and helps with controlling blood sugar and cholesterol. It can be found in apples, oranges, beans, and barley.
Insoluble fiber remains intact during digestion and helps with the normal movement of the contents of the intestine. It can be gotten from whole grain products like wheat bread and pasta, vegetables and brown rice.
I know, you’re probably thinking like I did the first time why you’d want to pay attention to eating something your body can’t even breakdown. You’ll see why; just come along with me…
What are the benefits of fiber in the body?
Fiber helps to lower cholesterol levels
Fiber reduces bad cholesterol levels by binding with cholesterol during digestion and preventing it from being absorbed and blocking arteries. This is mostly done by soluble fiber which can be gotten from oats and beans.
It helps with weight loss
Foods that have high fiber content are generally more filling than foods low in fiber content. This means when you eat high fiber foods, you’re most likely going to stay full longer. Ultimately, you can control hunger and obesity this way. Fiber supplements are now recommended for weight loss strategies as well.
It aids the control of blood sugar level
Fiber helps slow down the breakdown of carbohydrates and absorption of sugar in diabetic people, improving their blood sugar levels. Diabetic people are therefore usually advised to consciously add fiber to their diet plan.
It helps bowel movement and bowel health
This is probably the most popularly known benefit of eating fiber. Fiber adds to the weight and size of stool, causing it to be bulky and therefore easier to pass. It also lowers the risk of having hemorrhoids.
Fiber helps the heart
Research has shown that eating a high fiber diet reduces the risk of a heart attack by 40 percent
In what foods can you find fiber?
The following is a fiber rich food list
- Fruits: apples (most of the fiber is in the peel), oranges, bananas, raspberries, mangoes, guavas, persimmons, grapefruits and strawberries.
- Vegetables: carrots, broccoli, beets, artichokes, band greens and potatoes. The darker the vegetable color, the more fiber it contains.
- Legumes: beans (kidney, pinto beans or lima), lentils, soybeans.
- Nuts and seeds
- Bread and whole grains. When buying cereal, check the fiber content to make sure it is represented. At least 5 grams per serving is a good start.
How do you start and maintain a fiber conscious diet?
Just like exercising, ensuring you have a fiber rich diet requires a conscious effort. Truth is, when you start adding fiber to your diet regularly, it will take less effort after a while; which is a healthy habit.
- Don’t leave fiber containing foods out of your grocery list. If possible, put them somewhere at the top of your list. Keep them in sight at home. It is easier to grab an apple when it’s just within reach in your kitchen.
- Use whole grain flour when baking, add oats and crushed bran cereal to cookies, cakes and bread.
- Find delicious recipes that include vegetables and legumes.
- You can make smoothies and juice at home. They’re pretty easy to make and the recipes you can try are plentiful. It can be fun too; seeing what works and what doesn’t.
Do not shock your body by adding too much fiber to your diet all at once. It could cause abdominal cramping and bloating. Do it gradually, increasing the pace as you go.
Eat more fiber!