What is fiber? Fiber is the part of plant foods that our bodies cannot digest or absorb. Fiber can be found in fruits, beans, lentils, vegetables, peas, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Additionally, there are two types of dietary fiber, both of which provide benefits to the human body. Soluble fiber is derived from fruit, some vegetables, oats, beans, peas, lentils and barley. When soluble fiber is mixed with liquids, it becomes a gel-like substance which helps control blood sugar and lowers cholesterol. Insoluble fiber comes from fruits, grains, and vegetables. This type of fiber adds bulk, helps food pass through the gastrointestinal tract, prevents constipation and acts like a brush to clean out the colon. In addition to the cardiovascular, digestive and blood sugar benefits, fiber can help with weight management. High fiber foods tend to be more filling than low fiber foods so you are more likely to eat less and stay satiated longer.
It is recommended to consume between 25 and 38 grams of fiber per day depending on age, sex, and lifestyle. Unfortunately, most people only consume about half of the recommended amount. Here are some suggestions to help you get more fiber in your daily diet:
· Eat vegetables, nuts, seeds, and unpeeled whole fruit. Examples of high fiber foods include: artichoke hearts, avocado, peas, spinach, sweet potato, black beans, kidney beans, lentils, ground flaxseed, almonds, apples, pears, mangos, prunes, and raspberries.
· Consume unprocessed foods as much as possible. Food processing typically removes a lot of natural fiber .
· Try recipes with beans, peas, barley, lentils, quinoa, bulgur or brown rice.
· Have nuts, seeds, raw veggies, or fruit for snacks instead of chips or candy.
· Spread your fiber rich foods throughout the day.
· Drink plenty of water, at least 80 ounces per day or half your body weight in ounces per day .