A healthy diet is a balance of good nutrition, calories, vitamins, and fiber. Fiber by definition is the part of plant foods that is not digestible but necessary for us because it moves foods through our digestive system. Our daily fiber requirement is 25-30 grams. An average person gets only 5-8 dietary grams of fiber in a day. This article will show you how easy it is to add fiber to your diet.
Low fiber diets increase the risk of disease including colon cancer, obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. Other health issues you may experience are hemorrhoids, irritable bowel syndrome, diverticular disease, high cholesterol, weight gain, and constipation. Just by making a few changes in your diet you can help to eliminate the possibility of these problems.
Obesity or being over weight is less likely when your diet includes the right amount of fiber for two reasons. Fiber fills you up and the process of normal healthy digestion burns up calories. This is why fiber rich diets are a key to weight loss success.
Increasing fiber in your diet is easy. Most fruits, beans, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, berries, and dried fruits are fiber rich foods. Substituting fresh fruit, veggies, dried fruit, or nuts in place of a high calorie packed snack is a smart way to improve your diet. Replace white bread with a loaf made of whole grains and do the same with pasta and white rice. You may be pleasantly surprised how tasty wheat pasta and brown rice are. Another good idea is selecting fresh fruit over juice because it has more fiber and fewer calories.
There are two types of fiber. Soluble fiber dissolves in water forming a gel-like substance helping to lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels. Foods with this type of fiber include oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, and psyllium seed husk which is an ingredient often found in high fiber breakfast cereals. Insoluble fiber does not break down and is roughage increasing stool bulk that moves material through the digestive system. Foods containing this fiber are whole wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts, and many vegetables.
Examples of Fiber Rich Foods
Fruits- oranges, cherries, apples & pears w/ skins, tomatoes w/ skins, and bananas
Dried fruits- figs, apricots, dates, raisins, and prunes
Vegetables- onions, cauliflower, broccoli, sweet corn, carrots, spinach, kale, beet greens, collard, baked potatoes with skin, green beans, canned & fresh pumpkin, brussels sprouts, artichokes, zucchini, celery, sweet potatoes, and turnip greens
Legume Family- soybeans, peas, lentils, chickpeas, and beans
Berries- blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries
Oats, rye, chia, and barley
Grains, whole grain foods, and bran
Nuts(although a great source of fiber, careful nuts are high in fat and calories)
Popcorn (air popped)
With a fiber rich diet it is important to increase fluids 8-10 glasses per day. This will aid digestion and support good colon health. I recommend water as a first choice but juice, decaffeinated tea & coffee, and low fat milk are other good picks. Note the list does not include soda pop, energy drinks, sport drinks, or alcohol. Increasing daily fiber should be gradual or you may experience diarrhea, intestinal gas, bloating, and cramping. It will take you a few weeks to make the necessary changes and learn how to read the labels on food products at the grocery store. I am certain your time and efforts will pay off with notable changes to your health.