What’s good about fiber
When we add fiber to our diets, our digestive systems don’t always cooperate, and that’s because we’ve all gotten used to simple carbs and white flours which just flow through our bodies without any benefit at all. What’s good about fiber is that it hauls our digestive trash out of our bodies, because fiber itself cannot be digested.
So, fiber, both insoluble and soluble, bind with the body’s waste products and help them move through proper channels.
Fiber is an essential part of our healthy diet, and helps prevent:
Diabetes as a disease is linked above all to diet. Those who suffer from diabetes have to carefully watch what they eat in order to keep their blood sugar levels stable. Fiber helps these blood sugar levels by assisting the digestive system to digest sugar more slowly, therefore preventing spikes in blood sugar.
These spikes are a result of simple sugars hitting the body quickly and leaving just as quickly, resulting in a sudden drop.
Fiber has a huge role in preventing heart disease from two main benefits: it lowers both blood pressure and cholesterol. Eating a healthy diet with low saturated and trans fats as well as a good amount of fiber can keep arteries clear and reduce the risk of contracting heart disease.
Of course, all cancers are different and have different triggers (or none at all) but you can reduce your risks of colon cancer and breast cancer by eating more fiber. More research still needs to be done on the link between colon cancer and fiber, but it appears that eating more fiber from whole grains reduces the risk, possibly because it helps move things along faster, not letting waste stay in the colon too long.
A diet high in fiber makes us feel full longer, but high fiber is also lower in calories and helps maintain blood sugar. Enough said!
Where can I get some fiber
- Whole grain cereals, oatmeal, millet, Ezekial bread are all great high-fiber choices.
- Fill up on fruit for dessert.
- Animal products never have ANY fiber.
- Chilis and soups are a great way to add beans, which are loaded with fiber.
- Grab some raw veggies to snack on. Carrots, green beans, cauliflower are all great choices.
As a side note: Eating beans…
Sometimes beans may cause a little gas or indigestion. If that happens, try these tips:
- Start with small servings.
- Smaller beans tend to be easier to digest, so try black beans, black–eyed peas, and lentils, and work your way up to pinto, kidney, and fava beans.
- Drain your beans after soaking, and then cook them in fresh water.
- Make sure beans are thoroughly cooked.
- Drain and rinse canned beans.
2 Types of Fiber
It’s important to have both soluble and insoluble fiber in your diet, and most fiber-rich plant foods contain both, but you’d never know it looking at nutrition labels.
Soluble fiber dissolves or swells when put into water. When your oatmeal becomes soft and gooey in water, that is your clue that the oats are full of soluble fiber. Soluble fiber reduces cholesterol and helps to keep blood sugar stable. Beans, fruits, and oats are great sources of soluble fiber.
Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water and is not readily broken down by the bacteria in your gut. Insoluble fiber is great for regularity, and for preventing constipation. All plants, specifically vegetables, and wheat, bran, rye, and brown rice are chock-full of insoluble fiber.
How to Get More Fiber
Fiber has so many great benefits, so how do we get more of it into our diets? Adults should aim for about 40 grams of fiber a day. This chart will give you an idea of what’s what.
1 cup oatmeal = 4 grams
1 medium banana = 3 grams
1 cup soymilk = 1 gram
TOTAL: 8 grams
1 cup salad greens = 2 grams
1 cup broccoli, peppers, tomatoes = 4 grams
1 cup lentil soup = 7 grams
TOTAL = 13 grams
1 apple = 3 grams
1 cup black beans = 7 grams
1/2 cup brown rice = 2 grams
1/2 cup salsa = 2 grams
1/2 cup green lettuce = 1 gram
1 whole wheat tortilla = 2 grams
1 cup collard greens = 4 grams
TOTAL = 18 grams
Grand total: 42 grams
Don’t forget water!
As you increase your fiber intake, you’ll have to increase your fluid intake as well. If you are dehydrated, your body will pull water from your food waste, making you constipated, which is no fun. Women need on average about 2 liters a day of water, and men need about 3 liters. Divide your body weight in half and drink that quantity of water in ounces.
Also, take care to chew your food thoroughly and don’t eat too fast! Even eating too much fruit sugar and too many beans can increase gas production and bloating. You don’t want your fiber intake to upset your stomach, so just be sure to take these simple precautions, and you’ll be good to go. Literally.