…helps us in so many ways – its numerous health benefits are proven and well documented. Fiber is only found in plant products, so if a food comes from an animal, it does not have fiber. That means if you are consuming most of your calories from meat, chicken, fish, cheese, milk, bacon, and fats in all their varieties, you are not getting any fiber.
Fiber is the part of food that your body cannot absorb, it passes through the body intact. There are 2 kinds – soluble (dissolves in water) and insoluble.
Soluble fiber holds water and forms gels, which slows the rate food leaves the stomach. This is good, because while eating less, you will still feel satisfied. This delay also slows sugars entering the blood stream, thus lowering the glycemic effect. Forming gel also binds cholesterol and “escorts” it out of the body. Foods that contain high amounts of soluble fiber include oats, barley, legumes (beans and peas), apples, carrots, and citrus fruits.
Insoluble fiber promotes movement (think of your intestines, not the dance floor), which speeds food through the gut. Once nutrients are absorbed, what remains is “toxic” waste and needs to move through the intestines. Insoluble fiber acts like a Roto Rooter, clearing waste out so it doesn’t sit in the gut too long. The best source of insoluble fiber is found in the bran layer of cereals and grains.
What happens if you don’t get enough fiber? Well, you may be familiar with some of these modern health concerns: overweight, diabetes, higher blood cholesterol levels, increased problems with constipation, hemorrhoids, and diverticular (small pouches in intestines) diseases.
You need 25-30 grams of fiber a day, which really is quite a bit. Here are some tips to increase fiber in your diet:
* Eat more whole grains – at least HALF of all breads, grains, cereals you consume should be whole grain. Foods such as bran, cereals, oatmeal, 100% whole wheat bread, and brown rice. Substitute whole grain flour for half or more of white flour.
* Fill up on fruit – eat a fruit at every meal, remember the more unprocessed, the better
* Take in more legumes, at least 3 times a week. Your body will adjust to the side effect of gas, it will go away in a couple of weeks, meanwhile, stock up on Bean-o.
* Enjoy many more vegetables – add them to soups, sauces and snacks.
* Make your snacks count – try vegetable sticks, whole fruits, and whole grain products