Add Fiber

Small Step Toward a Healthy Eating Lifestyle:
Add Fiber Foods to Your Diet!

Is this progress?

One of the ironies of life is that as technology has advanced, our food supply has in many ways declined, at least from the standpoint of nutrition. One of the nutrients that has seen the greatest negative impact is fiber.

Before the advent of processed foods and fast food, eating enough fiber each day was not of major concern. It just happened. Grains were whole, vegetables and fruits were unprocessed, and most diets consisted of real foods that have fiber naturally. Unfortunately for many of us, this is no longer the case. For this reason, we need to take a look at our diet and if necessary, make changes to add fiber to our daily meal plans.

Why do I need fiber?

You probably already know that fiber promotes good digestion and elimination. In addition, fiber can contribute to a healthy colon and decreased exposure to harmful toxins. Sufficient fiber in the diet has also been associated with decreased risk of diabetes, heart disease, cancer and irritable bowel syndrome.

Some health experts believe that the health of the digestive tract is a barometer of overall health. One way to help keep your gut healthy is to get enough fiber in your diet and keep that "barometer" steady!

Fiber can even help you with weight loss

Since fiber creates bulk in your stomach and digestive tract, it can help you lose weight by allowing you to feel full, while consuming fewer calories. In addition, foods that are good sources of fiber are often lower in fat and calories, so if you eat the same volume of food, you may actually eat fewer calories, without feeling deprived.

Be careful of weight loss products that are merely fibers that produce bulk. It is generally better to get your fiber from food, if possible. It may be wiser to spend your money on real food rather than expensive fiber pills.

Two varieties

Fiber, both soluble and insoluble, is found in plant foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and seeds. One way to recognize fiber is that it gives texture to foods. Celery has crunch because of the insoluble fibrous strings in its makeup. The snap when you bite into a fresh apple comes from the fiber in its skin. Whole wheat bread has a rougher texture, from the bran fiber that covers the wheat kernel before it is ground into whole-wheat flour. Corn on the cob has a satisfying crunch due to the fiber in the outer skins of the corn kernels.

All of the following foods contain significant amounts of fiber:

Apples, oranges, strawberries, raisins, cantaloupe, pears, sweet potatoes, avocado, celery, broccoli, cabbage, corn, carrots, Brussels sprouts, flax seeds, nuts, lentils, beans, brown rice, oatmeal, 100% whole-wheat bread.

However, meats, fish, poultry, dairy, oils and sugars are noticeably missing from this list of fiber foods, because they do not contribute fiber to your diet unless it is added during processing.

What if you don’t get enough?

In addition to feeling sluggish, if you do not eat enough fiber-containing foods, you may experience constipation and hemorrhoids, and could increase your risk of getting colon cancer and other digestive disorders, as well as, diabetes and heart disease.

How much do you need?

Adults generally need about 25-30 grams of fiber each day. Children need less, depending on age. A rule of thumb for determining the amount of fiber a child needs is “age-plus-five,” meaning add five to the child’s age to determine the amount of fiber they need. (i.e. an eight-year-old would need about 13 grams of fiber [8+5] each day.)

Click on this link for a list of foods with 3 grams of fiber.

If you eat out, check the websites of your favorite restaurants and order menu items that have some fiber.

How to add fiber

Add fiber by eating lots of fresh, whole, plant foods! Whenever possible, leave edible skins (after a thorough washing) on your fruits and vegetables. Exchange that white bread or bagel for a tasty whole-grain version. Add beans, and also seeds and nuts (sparingly) to your diet in all of their wonderful variety. If you eat a lot of packaged foods, check the labels and choose the ones that have more fiber. 

For most of us who do not get enough, every time we add fiber to our diet, we will move toward increased health and wellness.

Add fiber to your diet today and be healthy with my warmest regards,

Suzy Staywell

Click here to go from Add Fiber page to Healthy Beans page.