5 Easy Ways to Get More Fiber in Your Diet
Most of the U.S. population falls shy when it comes to fiber intake. Rise above the statistics with five easy ways to get more fiber in your diet.
Fiber can sometimes be forgotten about and skipped over. To achieve optimal health, we often hear to choose whole grains, fruits and veggies, lean proteins, and healthy fats. In the mix of that well-balanced diet, fiber tends to be overlooked. Luckily, dietary fiber is found in a majority of those nutritious foods. But despite its availability, the general U.S. population falls shy when it comes to fiber intake. Rise above the statistics with five easy ways to get more fiber in your diet.
A Quick Lesson on Fiber
First thing is first, dietary fiber is a plant component that cannot be absorbed or digested by the body. Instead of getting absorbed and used for energy, it passes down the gastrointestinal tract and remains relatively intact. Fiber comes in two forms: soluble and insoluble.
This type of fiber can be thought of as a sponge. When soluble fiber is ingested, it absorbs with water and forms a gel-like substance. Oats and beans are good sources of soluble fiber.
Unlike soluble fiber that absorbs with water, insoluble fiber does not dissolve. Instead, it can be thought of as roughage and bulk-forming. Nuts, vegetables, and potatoes are significant sources of insoluble fiber.
Get to Know the Health Benefits of Fiber
Blood Sugar Control
Those living with diabetes benefit from fiber intake due to its ability to control blood sugar levels. Those "healthy" carbs such as whole grains, vegetables, and fruits are not only filled with fiber, but ideal for diabetes management.
Reduce Heart Disease
Ever hear "Eating cheerios may reduce cholesterol?" The cereal's notorious claim can be contributed to its fiber content, specifically soluble fiber. Since soluble fiber acts like a sponge, it can help "soak" up cholesterol and excrete it from the body.
Normalize and Maintain Bowels Health
Dietary fiber helps increase and soften stools, thus allowing for easier passage. When bowels are loose, fiber can help solidify the stool. A high-fiber diet may also reduce the development of hemorrhoids and diseases of the colon, with some supporting evidence showing the reduction of colorectal cancer.
Compared to diets low in fiber, high-fiber foods are more filling and typically lower in calories. Not only are you more apt to eat less, you may stay sustained and satisfied longer after meals.
5 Easy Ways to Get More Fiber in Your Diet
1. Start in the Morning
Healthy choices in the morning can lead to healthy choices the rest of the day. Since fiber helps with feelings of fullness, eating a high-fiber breakfast can really kick start the day. When choosing cereal, a general rule is 5 grams or more of fiber per serving. Adding flax and wheat bran can also boost the fiber's total.
2. Go Whole Grain
Over the past few years, there has been a bigger push to switch from white flours to whole grains. Unlike several health trends, going whole grain can amplify nutrient and fiber content.
3. Snack Attack
Make the most of snack time. Instead of grabbing for a bag of chips, crunch on some veggies or an apple. Pair with hummus or peanut butter for an ideal snack filled with protein and loaded with fiber. The combination of the two will increase satiety.
4. Consume Legumes
Not only do legumes provide ample amounts of fiber, they are an excellent source of protein. In general, reducing the amount of red meat and increasing plant-based proteins can contribute to a more healthful diet.
5. Fiber Supplements
Although fiber supplements lack essential vitamins and minerals that are obtained from food, they are convenient. Sources such as Metamucil offer high amounts of fiber. If not a big breakfast goer, a fiber supplement may be the most appropriate source and option.
When increasing fiber, it is important to start slow, especially if fiber initially lacks in the diet. Along with starting slow and growing to a higher-fiber diet, maintaining adequate hydration is key to minimizing constipation. The recommended amount of fiber is 38 grams per day for men and 25 grams per day for women. Realistically, a well-balanced diet can take the guesswork out of fiber intake and contribute to a healthier you.