Dietary fibers are found in vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts, and heart healthy whole grains. Did you know fiber actually comes in two different forms? The two types of fiber are called soluble fiber and insoluble fiber; both forms of fiber accomplish the same task through different processes. Having said that, fiber plays many different roles on digestion.
Soluble fiber attracts water and will form a gel like substance that helps delay digestion and also helps us feel full for a longer period of time. When you consume the proper amount of soluble fiber during the day it will help you with weight maintenance. If you feel full and you have met your caloric needs, there is no reason to continue to eat! As the old saying goes: “Eat to live, do not live to eat.”
Sources Of Soluble Fiber:
Oat cereal Lentils
Pears Oat bran
Dried peas Blueberries
Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water and adds to the “bulk” in our stool. By remaining intact as it passes through digestion, it acts as a laxative and helps us pass foods and wastes through the gastrointestinal tract while also preventing constipation.
Sources of Insoluble Fiber:
Whole wheat whole grains
Wheat bran Corn bran
Barley Brown rice
Cucumbers Green beans
Green leafy vegetables Raisins
Both types of fiber are equally important for health, digestion, and preventing conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, diverticulitis, and constipation. Don’t worry about what kind of fiber you’re consuming unless you are seeking a specific health benefit, such as eating more soluble fiber to lower cholesterol. Focus on eating a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. This will provide a variety of soluble and insoluble fibers and all of the health benefits. Most Americans are only consuming 15 grams of fiber daily, but its recommended to eat 30-35 grams for health benefits.
Meeting daily fiber goals can be challenging, so I will leave you with a few tips to slowly increase your daily fiber intake. Remember, increasing fiber may cause intestinal gas, but if you increase your consumption gradually you will allow your body to adapt.
· Eat more whole fruit instead of fruit juice.
· READ LABELS- Look for the word whole before any grains on the ingredient list and check the number of grams of dietary fiber on the nutrition facts panel of packages to select high-fiber foods.
· Start your day with a bowl of bran or other high-fiber cereal that contains at least FIVE grams of fiber per serving.
· Snack on raw vegetables.
· Add legumes, seeds, and nuts into soups, salads, and stews.
· Replace refined white bread, pasta, and rice with whole-grain products.