Fiber...Why You Need It
Hi friends! I wanted to make this blog post about fiber because I have had several clients ask me questions about it. As with anything out there, you constantly are overwhelmed with eat this and not that and then other people are saying the exact opposite. It can be very confusing if you don't have any background knowledge yourself. My first tip of advice- always do your research! Knowledge is power! Don't just settle for "googling it" as many things that pop up on google are incorrect. Actually take the time to look for quality articles from reputable sources.
Let's get to the basics- Why is fiber important?
Dietary fiber is found in many fruits, veggies, legumes and whole grains. It can be used to prevent OR relieve constipation (you've probably experienced this before).
There are many benefits to a diet that is high in fiber. Just to name a few...
1) normalizes bowel movements
2) helps maintain bowel health
3) helps lower cholesterol levels
4) can help one achieve a healthy weight
5) controls blood sugar levels
6) can help prevent strokes
Keep in mind, there are TWO different types of fiber. It is important to have BOTH in your diet!
1) Soluble Fiber- blends with water in the gut- forming a gel-like substance. *reduces cholesterol levels and helps stablize blood sugar levels*
-- examples: beans, fruits and oats are rich in soluble fiber
2) Insoluble Fiber- does not blend with water and passes through the digestive system intact
*this is great for decreasing constipation*
-- examples: all plants, especially vegetables, wheat and wheat bran, rye and brown rice are rich in insoluble fiber.
If you aren't getting enough fiber, try adding in some of these foods:
---> nuts and seeds, fruits, vegetables, whole grain products, beans and peas. Keep in mind that processed foods are going to be lower in fiber (for ex: canned peaches) than unprocessed foods.
I found these great ways to add in fiber from:
Grains and Cereals
- As a general rule, include at least one serving of whole grain in every meal.
- Keep a jar of oat bran or wheat germ handy. Sprinkle over salad, soup, breakfast cereals and yogurt.
- Use whole-wheat flour when possible in your cooking and baking.
- Choose whole grain bread. Look on the label for breads with the highest amount of fiber per slice.
- Choose cereals with at least 5 grams of fiber per serving.
- Keep whole-wheat crackers on hand for an easy snack.
- Cook with brown rice instead of white rice. If the switch is hard to make, start by mixing them together.
Legumes and Beans
- Add kidney beans, garbanzos or other bean varieties to your salads. Each 1/2 cup serving is approximately 7 to 8 grams of fiber.
- Substitute legumes for meat two to three times per week in chili and soups
- Experiment with international dishes (such as Indian or Middle Eastern) that use whole grains and legumes as part of the main meal or in salads.
Fruits and Vegetables
- Eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Fresh fruit is slightly higher in fiber than canned. Eat the peel whenever possible — it's easier than peeling or eating around it.
- Have fresh fruit for dessert.
- Eat whole fruits instead of drinking juices. Juices don't have fiber.
- Add chopped dried fruits to your cookies, muffins, pancakes or breads before baking. Dried fruits have a higher amount of fiber than the fresh versions. For example, 1 cup of grapes has 1 gram of fiber, but 1 cup of raisins has 7 grams. However, 1 cup of raisins or any other dried fruit has more calories than the fresh fruit variety.
- Add sliced banana, peach or other fruit to your cereal.
- Grate carrots on salads.
As with most things, a fiber supplement is NOT going to be as benefitial as getting the fiber from natural food sources. A fiber supplement doesn't give you the V A R I E TY of fiber,vitamins and minerals that you can get from food that is naturally higher in fiber.
Fiber is GOOD for you- however, increasing your daily intake TOO quickly can cause gassiness, bloating and other symptoms. Increase your fiber intake slowly to avoid these uncomfortable situations :)
The recommended amount of fiber per day for men is 30-38g and 25g a day for women. This changes for women above the age of 50, as their recommended amount is 21g per day.
Don't forget- DRINK LOTS OF WATER! Fiber absorbs best in H20!
Here are some great articles about fiber:
I hope this post helps clear up some misinformation you may have had about fiber! Let me know if you start adding more into your diet! :)