Whether you call it "fiber", "roughage", or "bulk", it's important for fiber to be a good portion of your diet.
While fiber is normally associated with bowel health it has a large number of other health benefits as well.
Today we'll talk about everything fiber! What it is, where to find it, the health benefits, and how much of it you should try to get into your diet per day.
What is fiber?
Fiber is the part of your plant-based foods that your body can't digest. It passes through your body this way in order to keep your digestive system clean, to help with going to the bathroom, and to flush unwanted toxins and cholesterol out of your body.
It comes in two varieties: soluble and insoluble.
Soluble fiber is the type that dissolves in water and helps to control blood sugar levels and reduce bad cholesterol. You can find soluble fiber in things like barley, oatmeal, beans, nuts, and fruit.
Insoluble fiber is the type that doesn't dissolve in water. This is the type of fiber that helps with bowel movements. You can find insoluble fiber in whole grains, and vegetables.
Food in its most natural state will contain the most fiber. The more it's been processed the more it has been stripped of its natural fiber. A lot of "white" food products (bread, pasta) will have the majority of the fiber removed.
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Health benefits of fiber
Eating foods that are high in fiber can help lower your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes, improve your skin health, help you lose weight, and may even help prevent colon cancer.
How much fiber in a day
A 35-year-old female should be eating 26 grams of fiber per day to reach her daily recommended intake of fiber. That number drops down to 21 grams by the time she reaches 51 years of age.
Here are some easy tips on how to add more fiber to your diet.
Start your day with fiber: You can either add fruit, or wheat bran to your cereal in the morning or start your day with a big bowl of oatmeal.
Eat whole-grain products: Replace "white" foods like bread and pasta with the whole grain version. Experiment with other grain products like wild rice, barley, and quinoa.
Use whole wheat flour in your baking: Switch out half of the white flour in your baking with whole wheat flour. You may have to add more yeast if you're making bread.
Eat whole fruits and veggies instead of drinking juice: When you juice a piece of fruit or a vegetable you're getting rid of the fiber. Eat the piece wholly to make sure you're getting the fiber benefits.
Add beans or lentils to things like soups and salads.
Cut fruits and veggies into pieces and leave them in the fridge for an easy snack.
If you're new to having fiber in your diet incorporate these foods gradually so you don't end up bloated and uncomfortable. Make sure to be drinking LOTS of water as well which will help with these symptoms.
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