How To Eat a Fiber Rich Diet | HealthiNation
I’m Lynn Goldstein, a Registered Dietician. Fiber. You probably know it’s good for you, but if you’re like nearly half of all Americans, you still don’t get enough of it in your diet. It’s time to expand your fiber knowledge: What exactly is fiber? Dietary fiber mostly includes carbohydrates the body can’t break down or absorb. Because this roughage can’t be digested, our bodies don’t use it as an energy source. But it’s still an essential part of a healthy diet. There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble, depending on whether the fiber dissolves during digestion. Soluble fiber is found in whole grains like oats and barley, as well as in foods like flaxseed, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits and carrots.
Soluble fiber dissolves in water to form a gel-like substance that slows down digestion. This can help stabilize blood sugar levels and curb hunger. That’s important for maintaining a healthy weight and even for helping to prevent or control Type 2 Diabetes. Insoluble fiber is the second kind of dietary fiber. Your body doesn’t break this stuff down at all. So it moves through your digestive system, helping everything else move along with it, increasing stool bulk. That may not sound so pleasant, but hey, if you’re constipated or have irregular stools, you’ll REALLY appreciate what fiber does. It also helps prevent diverticulitus and hemorrhoids. Don’t worry. There’s no illustration on this. I’ll just move things along myself by letting you know that Insoluble fiber is found in whole wheat, dark green leafy vegetables and nuts. There’s a solid body of research that points to fiber as important in preventing or controlling heart disease. Consuming soluble fiber can help lower low-density lipoprotein (or bad) cholesterol levels, and that protects your entire cardiovascular system. Some studies even suggest that adequate fiber intake could lower your risk of developing several types of cancer.
But more research needs to be done. How much fiber should you be eating? The National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine recommends that men under 50 eat 38 grams of fiber a day, and women under 50 eat 25 grams. For adults over 50, men need 30 grams and women 21 grams daily. That’s a whole lot more than the 14 grams most of us are currently chewing on. Adding bulk to your diet might seem difficult, but it’s really not so hard. Good choices include whole foods that are healthy for a whole lot of reasons: whole grains, whole fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds. You get the whole idea, right? And if that’s not enough, over the counter supplements may be the way to go. Talk to your doctor about which is the best choice for you. And steer clear of refined or processed foods like canned fruits and vegetables, pulp-free juices, white breads, white rice, white pasta and non-whole grain cereals.
They are all lower in fiber content because the refining process removes the bran from the grain and the skin from the fruits and vegetables, and that’s where most of the fiber is. As a Registered Dietician, I recommend that you increase the fiber in your diet slowly over a period of a few weeks to avoid intestinal gas, abdominal bloating and cramping. This allows the natural bacteria in your digestive system to adjust to the change. And drink plenty of water. Fiber works best when it absorbs water, making everything go, well, smoothly. You can handle it. It’s not that rough. Get some fiber.
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