Fiber in Your Diet

Fiber in Your Diet

August 25, 2015

Dietary fiber is the material from plant cells that is non-digestible or only partially digestible in humans. There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble.

Insoluble Fibers, the kinds usually referred to as “roughage,” include the woody or structural parts of plants, such as fruit and vegetable skins and the outer coating (bran) of wheat kernels.

Soluble Fibers are substances that dissolve and thicken in water to form gels. Beans, oatmeal, barley, broccoli, and citrus fruits all contain soluble fiber, and oat bran is an especially rich source.

Why is Fiber Good for You?
Insoluble fibers tend to speed up the passage of material through the digestive tract, while soluble fibers tend to slow it down. However, they both combat constipation by softening and enlarging the stool. There is evidence, as well, that soluble fiber may be helpful in reducing blood cholesterol levels. Insoluble fiber is helpful in preventing and treating constipation.

What Foods Contain Fiber?

Beans: One of the best sources of both soluble and insoluble fiber. A half cup serving of cooked kidney, navy, pinto, or lima beans supplies around 4-7 grams of fiber, roughly half of which is soluble.

Bran: Wheat bran is almost entirely insoluble and excellent for relieving constipation; it’s found in whole-wheat products. Oat bran is also very high in fiber, more than half of it soluble.

Fruits: Eaten with the skins intact, fruits are excellent sources of insoluble fiber. The fiber in apples, peaches, plums, bananas, and citrus fruits is more than half soluble.

Whole grains: Choose whole-grain cereals, breads, and crackers when possible. Brown or wild rice and whole-wheat pasta will add fiber and variety to a meal.

Vegetables: all vegetables add some degree of insoluble fiber to the diet. Broccoli, raw carrots, and cabbage are sources high in soluble fiber.

How Do You Add Fiber to Your Diet?

Increase gradually: Too much too fast can cause gas, cramps, diarrhea, and discouragement

Get fiber from a variety of sources: Experiment with different fruits, vegetables, and grains, to help ensure a variety of nutrients.

Drink lots of water:Fiber, especially soluble, absorbs large amounts of water; a high fiber diet can actually constipate if not accompanied by plenty of fluid (6-8 cups per day).

Include some fiber in every meal: Breakfast offers an especially good opportunity for incorporating bran and whole-grain cereals or breads, along with fresh fruits, into your diet.

Substitute, don’t add: Use whole-grain breads and flours instead of more refined varieties; fruits and vegetables with skins intact instead of peeled, bran containing cereals instead of low-fiber breakfast foods.

Keep and eye on fats: Avoid heavy sauces for high-fiber vegetable dishes (for example, cheese sauce on broccoli). Always check the food label for fat content even if it is a high fiber food. Some high-fiber foods contain added, undesirable fats.

How Much Fiber Should You Consume?
Experts recommend that a healthy adult eat 20-35 grams of fiber a day, but most Americans get far less.

Posted In:

Cholesterol Management , Diabetes Mellitus , Diet and Nutrients , Weight Management