Most know that fiber is an important nutrient for health, but what exactly is fiber? It is an edible portion of plants that cannot be broken down by the body. It can be classified as either insoluble or soluble. You need both types of fiber each day!
Insoluble fiber does is not fully digestible. It absorbs water like a sponge. This fiber produces softer, bulkier stools making them easier to pass, it helps promote regularity and control bowel problems. Insoluble fiber comes from whole grain breads and cereals as well as vegetables and fruit.
Soluble fiber forms a gel when it mixes with water in the stomach. This slows down the digestion of food. This type of fibre helps control blood glucose levels and to lower blood cholesterol levels. Good sources of soluble fiber are oats, beans, peas, lentils, vegetables and fruit.
What Else Can Fiber Do?
Fiber helps keep the digestive system healthy. As mentioned above, it helps regulate blood sugars and cholesterol levels. It also helps to control your appetite by making you feel fuller longer.
How Much Do You Need?
Well, that depends on your age and gender. The chart below summarizes how much fiber is needed each day!
Add Fiber Slowly!
People who typically eat a low amount of fiber may experience some gas and bloating when they begin to eat large amounts. To minimize these symptoms, it is important to gradually increase the amount of fiber in the diet. Ensuring adequate fluid intake is another way to minimize these discomforts. Aim for 2L a day.
How can you increase your fiber intake?
Here are some easy ways to increase the amount of fiber in your diet:
- Choose whole grains as much as possible
- Substitute whole wheat flour in recipes
- Choose fruit, vegetables, whole grain crackers and popcorn for snacks
- Eat skins and edible seeds of vegetables and fruit
- Add lentils and beans to soups and salads
Increase the fiber in your diet and see the health benefits!