Fiber: An essential element to great health!

The Super Nutrient You May Not Be Thinking About, But Should

Whole grains, oats, flax, poppy, wheatgerm, granola, sunflower seeds.

Fiber. It’s one of those things you know you should be getting enough of, but it’s easy not to think about. Most of us only get 15 or so grams per day, when we should be getting around 30 grams (25g for women, 38g for men).

The many health benefits of fiber include:

  • Reduces cholesterol
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Encourages regular and complete bowel movements
  • Slows sugar absorption
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Helps prevent over-eating
  • Reduced risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers

Soluble and Insoluble Fiber

Both soluble and insoluble occur naturally in many fresh foods, and both are important to good health. Here is a basic overview of the two types:

Soluble fiber is found in beans, peas, lentils, oats and oat bran, psyllims husks, nuts & seeds, berries, and apples. It is linked to lowering LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, regulating blood sugar, and reducing the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Insoluble fiber is found in whole grains of all kinds, wheat bran, dark leafy greens, most root vegetables (with skins!), squash, and dried fruits like raisins and dates. It promotes healthy and regular bowel movements and reduces the risk of colon diseases like diverticulitis.

Foods High in Fiber

Whole grains, beans, and fresh fruits and vegetables all contain fiber. There are some herbal supplements to help make sure you get your daily intake when you’re on the go.

To naturally increase your daily intake of fiber, try these tips:

  • Replace processed grains and sweeteners (white flour, white sugar, corn syrup, etc.) for whole grains and sweeteners (whole wheat flour, whole- and multi-grain breads and cereals, maple syrup or raw honey, etc.)
  • Replace some of your meat intake with beans.
  • Eat more dark leafy greens and other fresh, steamed or lightly cooked vegetables
  • Eat more fresh fruit
  • Snack on nuts, seeds, and fresh or dried fruits rather than pre-packaged products
  • Add psyllium husk or flax meal to your daily herbal regimen

Adjust your fiber intake slowly, and drink plenty of water, to give your digestive system time to adjust. Remember, the more gradually you introduce new habits and lifestyle changes, the more likely they are to stick. Be good to yourself!

Looking for recipes? Try these earlier posts!

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