It has been estimated that most of us consume less than 11 grams of fiber a day. Put that up against the recommended 20-40 grams we need depending on your age and gender. We now eat more low-fiber processed foods than ever before and it is killing us.
Fiber is major disease fighter: It clobbers constipation, eases heartburn, protects you from ulcers, halts diarrhea, prevents gallstones, lowers colon cancer risk, calms IBS, lowers high blood pressure, helps fight diabetes, reduces breast and prostate cancer and reduces weight gain. While that list is long it is not by any means the complete list of what fiber can do.
There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble.
Soluble fiber dissolves in water to form a soft, gooey liquid or gel that can be fermented by the bacteria in the gut and absorbed into the body.
Insoluble fiber cannot be digested by the body and passes through unchanged. Both types are important to maintain a healthy digestive system.
Low intakes of fiber are associated with increased risk of bowel diseases and disorders like constipation.
It is also thought to prevent some diseases such as cancer, heart disease and has implications for reducing diabetes.
Changing to a high fiber diet is not difficult and should be done gradually as it may upset your digestive system.
Drinking water while eating a high fiber diet is very important. Undigested fiber holds fluid in the gut to form soft and bulky stools that move quickly and efficiently along the bowel. If you do not drink enough water but increase your fiber you may become constipated.
There are many ways to introduce more fiber into your diet:
The old way used to be to add bran to everything you ate. Bran can be a huge irritant and contains phytates, which can interfere with the absorption of essential mineral such as iron, calcium and zinc.
It is important to get both types of fiber from natural sources.
Not only will you benefit from the fiber but also all other the natural vitamins and minerals.
One of the easiest ways is to switch from white bread, white pasta and white rice to the whole wheat alternatives in each of these foods. Be careful if you have a gluten issue!
Most foods that are high in fiber also tend to be filling and have a lower calorie count than their more refined alternatives, which makes these foods great choices for weight-loss.
A couple of other easy ways to add fiber are:
Wash fruits and vegetables but do not peel. You may want to go organic for these foods, such as apples, pears, peaches, carrots, and potatoes.
When you add vegetables to soups and stews, do so in chunks and if you do puree or blend do not strain the vegetables as you lose a huge amount of fiber this way.
Add grated vegetables to casseroles, lasagna, shepherd’s pie and stews.
It is amazing what adding high fiber foods to your staples can do. An average portion of fresh tomato soup has 3.09 grams of fiber but add onions and lentils and it jumps to 4.27 grams. Ordinary coleslaw has about 2.92 grams of fiber but add celery, raisins and dried apricots and it rises to 4.25 grams.
Adding fiber to your diet is an easy way to combat not only digestive issues but also may other common diseases. It is one of those really important things that I work on with my clients, along with adding more water and exercise to their everyday life.
You Deserve to be Healthy So Eat More Fiber!