Eat more fiber. You probably would have heard it before. But do you know why you should eat it and why it is good for your health?
Fiber is best known for helping to keep food moving efficiently through your body. This is one of the many ways in which fiber contributes to good health.
What is dietary fiber?
Also known as roughage, it includes all parts of plant foods that your body cannot digest or absorb. Unlike fats, protein and carbohydrates – which are broken down and absorbed; fiber is not digested by your body.
Types of fiber
Benefits of high fiber diet
- Soluble – this type of fiber dissolves in water to form a gel like substance. It is found in oats, legumes (peas, beans, soya beans), apples, bananas, berries and psyllium.
- Insoluble – this type of fiber increases the movement of material through your digestive tract and increases your stool bulk. It is found in whole wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts, seeds and skin of some fruits and vegetables.
How much fiber do we need?
- Helps maintain bowel health
- Normalizes bowel movements
- Lowers total blood cholesterol levels by lowering bad cholesterol
- Helps control blood sugar levels
- Aids in controlling weight
- Protects against colorectal cancer
- Lowers the risk of developing hemorrhoids
- Reduces the risk of heart disease
- For some, fiber may provide relief from Irritable bowel syndrome
According to National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine, the daily need of men and women for fiber differs, and it changes with age.
Age 50 or younger Age 51 or older
Men 38 gms
Women 25 gms
Helpful hints to add fiber in your diet
Need ideas for adding more fiber to your diet?? Try the following suggestions
- Increase slowly – Adding too much fiber quickly can lead to gas, bloating, and/or diarrhoea
- Add the fluids – if you don’t have enough fluids with your high fiber diet, you may end up having constipation
- Don’t go overboard – don’t eat more fiber than your body can comfortably handle
- Little here, little there – don’t have all the fibrous foods in one meal, instead consume them throughout the day
- Switch to whole grains
- For breakfast choose cereals with ‘whole grain’, `bran’, or `fiber’ written on them
- Add flaxseeds, seeds or nuts to your salad, soup, cereal or yoghurt
- Keep frozen berries in your freezer to add to dessert, shakes or smoothies
- Beans and peas go with everything, throw them in your soup or salad
- Have veggies with your meals whenever possible
- Have fruits in between your meals
- Consume fruits and vegetables with skin whenever possible
- Have whole fruits instead of juices
- Cooking can reduce food’s fiber, so enjoy lots of vegetables in raw form
- Replace white rice with brown variety
There is nothing easy about developing new eating habits. So be patient as you learn to incorporate these suggestions into your diet.
M.Sc. ( Food & Nutrition)