When it comes to a balanced nutritional plan and enjoying a healthier lifestyle, it is hard to overstate the importance of fiber.
Even though fiber is mostly associated with grains, rice, and bread, it’s important to remember that fruits and vegetables also contain significant amounts of dietary fiber. In fact, the need for fiber is just one more reason to eat your fruits and vegetables every day.
In order to understand why dietary fiber is so important, it is a good idea to know what it is and the role it plays in digestion. Simply put, dietary fiber is the portion of food that the human body cannot digest. Fiber is found in foods of plant origin only. There is no fiber in meat and dairy products. Fiber plays an important role in the digestion of food and in the elimination of waste products as they travel through the body.
Good sources of fiber include grains, cereals, legumes, lentils, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables. As mentioned before, meat and dairy products do not contain any fiber, so it is important to eat some plant-based foods every single day to get the fiber you need.
Soluble vs. insoluble
Not all fiber is the same. In fact, fiber comes in two forms: soluble and insoluble. All plant materials contain both types of fiber, but some sources contain more of one than the other. Eating a variety of foods rich in fiber every day will ensure you get adequate levels of both soluble and insoluble fiber.
Insoluble fiber is important in keeping people regular and it has also shown promise in the prevention of some types of colon and rectal cancers. Insoluble fiber is mainly found in wheat, some types of vegetables, and in whole grain products. Some vegetables rich in insoluble fiber include carrots, peas, and broccoli. The skins of fruits are also rich in insoluble fiber.
Soluble fiber, on the other hand, has shown promise in reducing levels of cholesterol in the blood and reducing the rate at which glucose enters the bloodstream. Soluble fiber is abundant in dried peas, lentils, beans, barley, oat bran, and many fruits and vegetables.
How much fiber is enough?
Many people are unsure about just how much fiber they need every day. Most dietitians recommend that women consume between 21 and 25 grams of fiber per day. For men, the recommendation is 30 to 38 grams of fiber each day. Keeping these amounts in mind is important, as they can act as a guide and function as a goal to attempt to reach daily.
Of course, that is easier said than done and it is important to know which foods are high in fiber in order to boost your daily fiber consumption. In the case of packaged foods like bread and crackers, the fiber content will be listed as part of the nutritional label. In the case of fruits and vegetables, there are charts that show the fiber content of an average size piece. Some grocery stores post this information and it is also widely available on the internet.
When increasing dietary fiber, it is best to make the increase gradual. A sudden jump in dietary fiber can lead to bloating, gas, and abdominal discomfort. In addition, it is important to drink plenty of fluids, especially water, in order for fiber to have the best effect.
When choosing bread and cereals, it is best to go with healthier whole grains. In general, the less processing, the healthier the foods.
Eating the skins of fruits and vegetables is a great way to increase dietary fiber. Many people like to make fruit shakes and smoothies that use the skins of their favorite fruits. This is a delicious and nutritious way to increase fiber consumption. In addition, keeping a variety of fiber-rich foods around, such as apples, nuts, seeds, and bran muffins, is a great idea.
And finally, eating a wide variety of foods will ensure that you get plenty of fiber, as well as the vitamins, minerals, and trace elements that make a balanced diet so important.
Reach out today
Ultimate Phitness offers a variety of Customized Online Nutrition Programs. We even offer a high fiber meal plan option if you’re dedicated to improving this area of your diet.
At Ultimate Phitness, we’re passionate about providing educational resources and opportunities for others to continue their fitness journeys. We understand that it can be difficult to make the right diet choices, so that’s why we have specific plans to help in this situation. Feel free to check out our website and learn more about the numerous resources we offer.