How to get more fiber in your diet
Fiber-rich carbohydrates have a variety of health benefits when chosen wisely, including reducing the risk of cancers and heart disease, diabetes, gastro-intestinal disorders, easing the operation of the GI tract and weight management.
Fibers are divided into two major categories, soluble and insoluble.
Soluble fibers lowers the risk of heart disease and diabetes by lowering the blood cholesterol level because the cholesterol binds to bile for excretion through the gastro-intestinal tract, they slow the absorption of glucose and the transit of foods through the gastro-intestinal tract which will lead to satiety, holds moisture in the stools and yield special molecules that the large intestine can use as energy.
Insoluble fibers increase fecal weight, speeds up the passing of foods through the digestive tract and provide bulk and fullness when consumed. Insoluble fibers also may help with weight management, alleviate constipation and lower the risk of hemorrhoids and appendicitis.
Some of the major food sources responsible for fibers include:
- Barley, Oats, Oat Bran, Rye, wheat bran, and other whole grains
- Fruits (especially apples and citrus)
- Vegetables (especially root vegetables, cabbage, brussels sprouts)
- Brown rice, legumes , seeds and husks
- Extracted fibers that are often used as food additives
Consuming fiber-rich foods is beneficial for weight loss and weight management due to the fact that fiber-rich foods absorb water which gives us the feeling of fullness, tend to be very low in fat and added sugars, they also deliver less energy per bite which is crucial in attempting to lose weight.
As beneficial as fiber-rich foods are to our diets, the excess of fiber rich foods can be detrimental to any dieting program. Consuming an excess of fibers can bind vital nutrients, vitamins and minerals to the fiber that is going to be excreted out of the body making it unavailable for the body to utilize. These fibers also absorb water as mentioned before and if the rest of the diet is poor, such as those that are malnourished it can be a major source of dehydration, so it is important to drink more fluids when consuming a good amount of fiber.
The RDA recommends the consumption of approximately 14 grams of fiber/1000 calories.