What is fiber?
According to research conducted by the World Health Organization, dietary changes have shifted and people are consuming less dietary fiber. This transition has contributed to adverse health conditions of many populations.
Dietary fiber comes from plant cells. It is known as the part of the plant that cannot be broken or absorbed but passes through your stomach, small intestine then eventually out through your colon. It is still essential for your overall health and comes in two forms. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water. To reap the benefits of overall dietary fiber it is important to consume both forms.
Why do we need fiber?
Soluble and insoluble fiber provide different health benefits so it is important that you consume fiber from various food sources rather than one type of food.
– clings to cholesterol molecules, excretes them out of the body. This helps reduce overall cholesterol levels and protect from heart disease.
– makes you feel fuller for longer without adding many calories, contributing to weight loss.
– takes on water as it travels through digestive system, helps increase stool size, protect against diarrhea and constipation.
– like soluble fiber, contributes to weight loss because it allows you to feel fuller for longer without adding many calories.
– helps promote digestive health by improving issues with constipation, hemorrhoids, and fecal incontinence (problems controlling your bowel movements)
What foods provide fiber?
Soluble fiber: oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, barley, blueberries, oranges, flaxseed
Insoluble fiber: seeds, skin of fruit and vegetables, whole-wheat bread, brown rice, zucchini, celery, green beans, dark leafy greens, corn bran, quinoa
These are just a few of the many fiber-rich foods. The American Heart Association recommends a total dietary fiber intake of 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men. Find ways to incorporate more fiber-rich foods in your diet. Whether it’s eating more oats, nuts, fruits or vegetables. Crush almonds on top of your salad, add bananas to your morning cereal, keep the skins of your fruits for your morning smoothie. The possibilities never end. Get creative in the kitchen and feed your body the fiber it needs.
It is important to know many fiber-rich foods contain both types of fiber (soluble and insoluble), though it is most likely that they have increased levels of one over the other. Challenge yourself, add fiber rich foods to your diet and let the benefits pour!
By Alaa Al-Shujairi at www.alaaspantry.com
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