Dietary fiber is “nature’s broom.” Dietary fiber is the roughage such as parts of plants your body cannot absorb or digested. So it passes relatively intact through your digestive system (from your stomach to your small intestine then through your colon and out of your body).
There are 2 types of dietary fiber. Each having their own purpose:
- Soluble fiber: dissolves in water thus forming a gel-like substance. It can help lower blood cholesterol and blood sugar levels by “moving them out of the body before they’re absorbed.” Natural sources of soluble fiber include: black beans, lima beans, brussels sprouts, avocados, sweet potatoes, broccoli, turnips, pears, kidney beans, figs, nectarines, apricots, carrots, apples, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, barley, and oats
- Insoluble fiber: helps move your stool through the digestive system while increasing the stool bulk. Insoluble fiber is best to help with constipation and promote regular bowel movements. In other words, insoluble fiber is fiber for constipation and is how to have regular poop. “Natural sources of insoluble fiber include wheat bran, whole grains, cereals, seeds, and the skins of many fruits and vegetables.”
How Much Fiber a Day?
According to the USDA, “dietary fiber intake is recommended at 14 grams per 1,000 calories of food.”
How to Consume More Fiber
Below are some of the best ways to increase fiber intake, according to the Harvard Health Blog. Before increasing your fiber intake, do it gradually and increase your water intake as well. If you have digestive issues or other underlying conditions, then consult your doctor before increasing your fiber intake. Please note that too much fiber in the diet “can cause bloating, gas, and constipation. A person can relieve this discomfort by increasing their fluid intake, exercising, and making dietary changes,” especially if you consume more than 70g of fiber daily.
- Bowl of high-fiber cereal for breakfast
- Add vegetables, dried beans, and peas to soups
- Add nuts, seeds, and fruit to plain yogurt.
- Make a vegetarian chili filled with different types of beans and vegetables.
- Add berries, nuts, and seeds to salads.
- Try snacking on vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, and green beans. Serve them with a healthy dip such as hummus or fresh salsa.
- Eat more whole, natural foods, and fewer processed foods.
Should I Take Fiber Supplements?
If you cannot consume the 14 grams of fiber per 1,000 calories of food then try fiber supplements. As with high fiber foods, fiber supplements should be taken gradually and increase your water intake. If you have digestive issues or other underlying conditions, then consult your doctor before taking a fiber supplement.
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