Health Habits: Eat Your Fiber

What do heart disease, weight management, diabetes and digestive issues all have in common?  Fiber.  Fiber is an important part of a healthy eating plan that helps with these conditions.  It can be found in fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains.  Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that provides minimal energy for the body because the body cannot use fiber efficiently for fuel.  The fiber serves other purposes.   

There are two types of fiber; soluble and insoluble fiber.  Soluble fiber mixes with water in the stomach, which makes digestion a slower process, but helps increase absorption of nutrients. It binds cholesterol and slows glucose absorption, thus reducing cholesterol and glucose levels.  Insoluble fiber pulls water into the small intestine, which provides bulk into the stool.  In other words, insoluble fiber contributes to good colon health by easing bowel movements. The foods that provide fiber are plant foods.  They usually contain both forms, which is why it is best to eat whole food sources of fiber instead of supplements.  

The recommended amount of fiber for women is 25 grams and 38 grams for men each day. This is a general guideline, but needs may vary depending on your energy needs. To make sure you get enough fiber in your diet, start your day off with whole grains as they have higher amounts of fiber than fruits and vegetables.  Beans are higher in fiber as well, so throw some on a salad or in soup.  By eating a variety of foods daily, you’ll ensure you’re getting both soluble and insoluble fiber.  Read the labels of your food packages to figure out how much fiber you are getting.  Remember, less processed sources are best.

Below you will find a list of food with fiber and chances are, you’re eating some of the items on the list.

High in fiber: split peas, black beans, Oat bran, Kidney beans and chick peas.

Lower in fiber, but also great sources: Kellogg’s All Bran cereal, raspberries, blackberries, green peas, raw apple with skin on, baked potato with skin on, bananas, oranges, strawberries, carrots, barley, almonds, whole grain bread, romaine lettuce and broccoli.

 

Health habit for the week: Add fiber to your diet and compare your usual intake versus what’s recommended.

 

Research suggests that prunes are safe, palatable and more effective than psyllium for the treatment of mild to moderate constipation. 

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