Fiber: A Healthy Diet’s BFF

Filed in Gather Family Essential by on February 2, 2009 0 Comments

Fiber is truly a best friend to your diet. Yet, the average American probably doesnÂ’t get enough and could benefit from getting a lot more. On average, one should consume approximately 25 grams a day.

What is fiber? In short, dietary fiber includes all parts of plant foods that your body can’t absorb. Unlike other food components, your body doesn’t digest fiber. Instead, it passes through your digestive tract, increasing the weight and size of your stool, while softening it, making it easier to pass. In addition to regularity, fiber offers you and your body many benefits, including a reduced risk of diabetes and heart disease.

Fiber comes in two formats: insoluble and soluble. Insoluble fiber, which doesnÂ’t dissolve in water, increases the movement of food through your digestive system and increases stool bulk, helping to eliminate constipation and regulate the digestive tract. Soluble fiber, on the other hand, dissolves in water to form a gel-like material. It can help lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels.

If you donÂ’t get enough fiber in your diet, you might experience constipation, infrequent or hard stools, abdominal pain and a possible general feeling of “sluggish bowels”. Although too much fiber is better than not enough, you can overdo it, and if so, you may experience excessive gassiness, bloating, abdominal pain and stools that may be uncomfortably frequent and large in overall volume.

So, where can you find the best sources of fiber? Right in the ground: Whole grains, vegetables and fruits. Insoluble fiber is found specifically in whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts and most vegetables. While most fruits, beans, oats and barley provide you with soluble sources.

In short, the more whole grains, fruits and veggies that you incorporate into your diet, the better. If you are on the run and need a quick snack that is pre-packaged, opt for those that are high in fiber and low in saturated fat.

Do you think you eat enough fiber? What are your favorite sources of fiber?

Related Topics:

· Food Components: 101: Carbs, Fats, Protein, Water and Fiber

· Fiber Facts and Sources

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About the Author ()

My passion for health and wellness began as a freshman in college, where I quickly realized that exercise and good nutrition were vital to releasing stress and maintaining balance. I became an AFAA (Aerobics and Fitness Association of America) certified

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