Fiber... is the answer...
Do you know what fiber is and what it does? I've always known it's important, but I haven’t paid much attention to the reasons it is important. Once you understand the mechanics and function of it, you might be reaching for more.
Fiber answers these questions…
Do you want to lose weight more easily?
Do you want to reduce your blood sugar?
Do you want to reduce the risk of heart disease?
Do you want to reduce the risk of cancer?
Do you want to increase regularity?
Fiber can help with all these.
How does fiber work?
There are two kinds of fiber:
Soluble fiber dissolves in water and slides through your digestive tract helping things in its path move along so they don’t have time to hurt your health. For example, soluble fiber helps lower cholesterol this way. Examples of soluble fiber are oatmeal, pears, apples, blueberries, beans, lentils, and peas. These are just a few examples.
Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water. It functions by moving through your system and helping to keep you regular and to soften your stools. Examples of insoluble fiber are whole wheat, whole grains, brown rice, legumes, carrots, cucumbers and tomatoes.
Both forms of fiber are much more effective if you drink plenty of water. I have seen different opinions on how much water is appropriate, but the consensus seems to be to drink at least 66 ounces of water per day. Other studies recommend as much as 88 to 96 ounces for women and 120 to 128 ounces for men. With this wide a range, I would say, drink at least 66 ounces and increase from there until you are satisfied that all is moving smoothly.
Benefits of Fiber
Let's take a closer look at the benefits I mentioned above..
Fiber is one of the unsung aids to weight loss —or maybe some people are singing about it and I just haven't heard them. There are studies to show that people who increase the amount of fiber in their diet begin to slowly lose weight without doing anything else.
One way fiber assists with weight loss is be filling you up. Once full, you tend to eat less. Other components in foods (and especially processed foods) don't have this filling quality, so we end up eating more than we intended.
A second way fiber helps with weight loss is by preventing your body from absorbing some calories. And, fiber binds some fat and sugar molecules on their way through your body so they don’t stick with you.
And, for those of you at a desired weight, fiber also works in the same manner to avoid gaining weight.
type 2 diabetes
Fiber lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes. For example, a study showed that those who ate 26 grams of fiber per day lowered their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 18%.
One way fiber lowers your risk of heart disease is by soaking up cholesterol and whisking it through and out of your system.
The bacteria in your gut loves to eat fiber. When it does, it forms short-chain fatty acids that lower inflammation. This works best when you eat fiber daily.
Here's a good thing. For every 10 grams of fiber you consume, your risk of colorectal cancer is lowered by 10% and breast cancer is lowered by 5%.
As mentioned earlier, fiber helps increase regularity and reduce constipation. Who doesn’t love that?
How much fiber do you need?
Most sources say to eat 25 to 30 grams of fiber per day from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds.
How to work more fiber into your diet.
eat whole food rather than juices. Because the pulp is removed from juices, there is very little fiber left.
use whole grain bread products.
eat whole grain cereals rather than processed cereals.
eat beans or legumes instead of meat.
eat lots of fruits and vegetables as well as some nuts and seeds.
To get you started, here are a couple of examples of the fiber content of a few foods.
Kidney beans = 11.3 grams per cup
Split peas = 16.3 grams per cup
Lentils = 15.6 grams per cup
Chick peas = 12.3 grams per cup
Brussels sprouts = 4 grams per cup
Broccoli = 2.4 grams per cup
Beets = 3.8 grams per cup
Carrots = 3.6 grams per cup
Sweet potato = 3.8 grams per medium potato
Pears = 5.5 grams per medium pear
Banana = 3.1 grams per medium banana
Apple =4.4 grams per medium apple
Avocado = 1p grams per cup
Oats = 10.5 grams per cup
Almonds =3.4 grams per ounce
Chia seeds = 10.6 per ounce
These are just a few examples. It's easy to look up the fiber count of foods on your phone or in most calorie and nutrition books. Oh and one last thing… when increasing your fiber count, you will probably soon notice a difference in how you feel. Enjoy.