Fiber Is Your Friend: Eat Up!
So you’ve probably heard it by now – eat more fiber…it’s essential for a healthy diet. But do you know why it’s so good for you? Maybe you’ve heard it helps with constipation. Okay, that’s not a bad thing. Or that it helps fill you up. That’s a bonus too. But foods containing fiber can have other health benefits as well – like helping you maintain a healthy weight, lowering your risk of diabetes and heart disease, lowering cholesterol and helping control blood sugar levels, to name a few.1
Most people include fiber in their diets but just not enough of it. According to the Institute of Medicine, the daily recommendation for men under the age of 50 is 38 grams and for women it’s 25 grams. For men over 50, that number slightly decreases to 30 grams and women to 21 grams.2 The FDA has a more general guideline between 20 to 30 grams per day.3 No matter what that perfect number is, most Americans aren’t even eating half of that.
First it’s important to understand what fiber is – Dietary fiber is found naturally in the plants we eat and include the parts we can’t break down in our stomachs. And since our body can’t absorb or digest them, they pass relatively intact through our stomach, small intestine, colon and out of our bodies. All dietary fiber is either soluble (it dissolves in water) or insoluble (it doesn’t dissolve). Both types are equally important for good health.
Soluble fibers slow down digestion and help you feel full. Sources include: oatmeal, oat cereal, lentils, apples, oranges, pears, oat bran, strawberries, nuts, flaxseeds, beans, dried peas, blueberries, psyllium, cucumbers, celery, and carrots.
Insoluble fibers are considered “gut-healthy” because they have a laxative effect and add bulk to your diet, helping prevent constipation. Sources include: whole wheat, whole grains, wheat bran, corn bran, seeds, nuts, barley, couscous, brown rice, bulgur, zucchini, celery, broccoli, cabbage, onions, tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, green beans, dark leafy vegetables, raisins, grapes, fruit, and root vegetable skins.
So what are you waiting for? Fill up on fiber to give your body a healthy boost every day. And if you’re still having trouble getting enough, invest in some flax seed to sprinkle over salads, yogurt, in shakes, etc. It not only has both types of fiber, it contains Omega-3 essential fatty acids too.4