Eating enough fiber is one of the best things you can do for your health. At least 25 and 38 grams are the recommended daily amounts for women and men. However, most Americans don’t reach this goal, generally averaging about 16 grams per day or less.
What is fiber?
Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that cannot be digested by the body. There are two types of fiber. One is latewhich attracts water and becomes a gel to slow digestion and lower blood cholesterol and blood sugar. Not dissolved fiber, on the other hand, does not dissolve in water and instead attracts water to the stool making your trip to the bathroom much easier and less tiring.
What are the benefits of eating enough fiber?
Fiber is best known for helping keep bathroom trips organized, but so much more. Adequate fiber intake is known to:
- Helps maintain proper cholesterol levels
- Regulate blood sugar
- Reducing the risk of colon cancer
- Reducing the risk of diabetes
- Manage the body’s satiety signals (help you to better understand your satiety cues)
- Supports healthy weight loss and maintenance
The 3 best ways to get fiber into your diet
1. Get creative with your vegetables
Now, we know that eating our vegetables is probably something we should do every day, for many reasons. Non-starchy vegetables like broccoli and carrots are strong sources of vitamins and minerals, as well as fiber. However, it’s not always easy to make sure you have a side salad with every meal. This is why getting creative can be so helpful.
Shredding zucchini, beets, carrots, and other vegetables that don’t have super strong flavors into ingredients like ground beef before you make burger patties or meatballs can be a real game changer. This way, you can ensure that you have more fiber in your diet than you might have before. Another idea is to mix chickpeas into your tuna salad. They are very similar in texture and blend well, while adding more protein, fiber and nutrients all at once. You can even mix cooked vegetables into pasta sauce, which is a very kid-friendly way to increase your vegetable intake!
2. Choose fruit as a snack
Fruit is a great source of electrolytes, vitamins, minerals and natural carbohydrates paired with fiber. The biggest thing that separates white sugar from fruit is the fact that fruit has fiber to help the body process sugar and prevent blood sugar spikes. Eating fruit as a snack is a great way to get a few extra grams throughout the day outside of meal times. The fiber in fruit helps keep you full longer than any donut – even more so when you pair the fruit with fat and/or protein. Some examples are grapes and cheese or apples with peanut butter.
3. Don’t peel it all off!
There are so many valuable nutrients in fruit and vegetable skins, especially fiber which helps digestion. Peeling the skin can make a significant difference in the amount of fiber you receive. Peeling a kiwi can reduce its fiber content by up to 50 percent! Think about this the next time you’re peeling an apple or a potato, too.
The main thing is
Fiber is often an overlooked part of the diet, and is very difficult to obtain through a standard American (or Western) diet that is high in refined grains and low in whole vegetables, whole grains, fruit, and legumes. By making a few dietary adjustments, you can easily increase your fiber intake without drastically changing your diet. Every change will go a long way in helping your body stay healthy.
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