What is fiber? Fiber is the indigestible part of plant foods. They are usually the walls of the plant cells, skins and seeds. Due to refining of foods much of the fiber has been lost in our diets causing digestive problems and overall poor health.
How does fiber help your digestive tract? It absorbs water when it moves through the digestive tract and forms bulk in the intestines. This will soften stool and help food move faster through the digestive system.
List of common foods that contain fiber:
- Brussels Sprouts, 2 grams
- Broccoli, 4-5 grams
- Bread, 4-7 grams – 2 slices whole wheat, pumpernickel, seven-grain
- Carrots, 3-4 grams
- Bran Cereals, 5-10 grams – All-Bran, Bran Buds, 100% Bran, Raisin Bran
- Beans, 6-10 grams – baked beans, black beans, great northern beans, kidney beans, garbanzos, pinto
- beans, white beans
- Berries, 4-5 grams – blackberries, raspberries
- Sweet Corn, 5 grams
- Peas, 7-9 grams – black-eyed peas, green peas
- Greens, 4-6 grams – beet greens, collards, kale, spinach, turnip greens
- Bananas, 3 grams – medium 8″ long
- Dried Figs, 10 grams – 3 figs
- Fruit, 4 grams – medium apple, medium pear
According to the American Dietetic Association a healthy adult needs 20g-35g of fiber per day. However the average person is only consuming 14-15 grams. This is leading to digestive problems and contributing to the growing problem of obesity. Research is uncovering proof that fiber is helpful in prevention and relief from a variety of serious diseases.
Easy ways to increase fiber:
- Eating brown whole wheat bread instead of refined white bread
- Including more lentils, fruits and vegetables in your diet (see above list for some of these)
- Eating brown rice instead of refined white rice
- Eating bran cereal or granola cereal for breakfast
When you increase fiber in your diet you will experience some bloating and gas problems at first. However these will all subside in a matter of weeks as your body gets used to your new improved diet.
- Normalizes bowel movements. Dietary fiber increases the weight and size of your stool and softens it.
- Helps maintain bowel health
- Lowers cholesterol levels
- Helps control blood sugar levels
- Aids in achieving healthy weight
- Helps you live longer
Food supplements for fiber: Because it is often quite hard to include the amount of fiber we need in our diets supplements can sometimes be taken to increase fiber and for treatment of certain conditions. These will all help digestive disorders.
Psyllium husk- is a common supplement (Metamucil)
Methylcellulose-made naturally from the cell walls of plants (Celvic, Celevac)
Polycarbophil-is based on plant sources- This may cause less bloating than Psyllium husk (Fibercon, Equalactin) This is often used when treating digestive disorders
Vegetable gums: A new form of fiber supplement is Vegetable gums- guar gum (brand name Benefiber) or acacia (brand name Heather’s Tummy Fiber).
Increasing fiber in your diet will help your digestive system function better. This will result in lowering cholesterol and improving your overall health. With improved health you will be able to feel better, look better, think better and enjoy your life to the full.