Why is fiber so important?
Fiber or roughage is the indigestible part of a plant that pushes through our digestive tract. There are two main types of dietary fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber, such as bran, nuts, seeds, and beans, holds water and turns to gel during digestion. Insoluble fiber, by contrast, speeds the passage of foods through the stomach.
You should aim for 25 grams of fiber per day.
Getting adequate fiber has many benefits:
- relieves constipation and other digestive trouble
- makes stool easier to pass, preventing constipation, hemorrhoids, and diverticulitis (inflammation of the intestine), as well as helping some of the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, and gas
- aids in weight management, since high-fiber foods take longer to chew, sending the signal to your body that you are full faster
- helps lower serum cholesterol levels, improving heart health
- better blood sugar control
If you need to increase your fiber intake, here are some great sources from real food:
- Fresh fruits (including skins when possible), such as apples, apricots, bananas, berries, grapes, grapefruit, oranges, peaches, pears, pineapple, and tangerines.
- Fresh vegetables, such as asparagus, bean sprouts, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, corn, cucumber, green beans, leafy greens, okra, peppers, potatoes (with skin), squash, sweet potatoes, tomatoes.
- Dried fruits, such as apples, dates, figs, peaches, pears, and prunes.
- Dried beans, peas or lentils, such as black-eyed peas, black beans, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, lima beans, navy beans, pinto beans, split peas
- Whole grains, such as barley, bran, brown rice, buckwheat, bulgar, cornmeal, grits, graham, millet, oatmeal, oat bran, rye, whole wheat, wheat germ, wheat berries, cracked wheat, wild rice
- Whole grain crackers, such as AK mok, sesame crackers, graham crackers, Rye Krisp, Triscuits, Stoned Wheat crackers, Wheatsworth, whole wheat/bran matzos, oat bran crackers
- Other: bran muffins, granola bars, nuts, oatmeal cookies, popcorn, peanuts, seeds (sesame, sunflower, pumpkin), trail mix, whole wheat pasta
NOTE: increase fiber intake gradually, drink fluids liberally, avoid excessive amounts of fiber.