Fiber is your friend

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It’s commonly known that a healthy diet includes fiber. What may be less understood are the reasons that fiber is good for the body and what fiber actually is. “The American Dietetic Association reports that most of us don’t even come close to the recommended intake of 20 grams to 35 grams of fiber a day. Americans’ mean fiber intake is about half that –14-15 grams a day.”[1]

“Basically, the term fiber refers to carbohydrates that cannot be digested.”[2] Fiber is good for you in a number of different ways. It can help lower cholesterol, improve digestion and prevent constipation. It also helps you feel fuller longer, impacting your feeling of satiety and thus can be considered helpful for losing weight or maintaining it. When looking for ways to include fiber in your diet, there are many foods to consider, including legumes, vegetables, fruits, whole grains and nuts/seeds.

“The fiber in wheat bran and oat bran seems to be more effective than similar amounts of fiber from fruits and vegetables. Experts recommend increasing fiber intake gradually rather than suddenly. As fiber intake is increased, the intake of beverages should also be increased, since fiber absorbs water.”[3]

When thinking through having white rice versus brown rice, whole grains are preferred. “Whole grains haven’t had their bran and germ removed by milling, making them good sources of fiber — the part of plant-based foods that your body doesn’t digest. Among many health benefits, high-fiber foods also tend to make you feel full longer.”[4]

There are two kinds of fiber that exist, soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and insoluble fiber does not. “Soluble fiber is helpful for people who are experiencing diarrhea or constipation from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).”[5]

So when you’re thinking about fruit, perhaps reach for a piece of whole fruit rather than a glass of fruit juice. Opt for whole grains and brown rice rather than white rice or refined grains. If you want to eat cereal for breakfast, consider a low processed, high fiber cereal, like Uncle Sam with its 10g of fiber instead of one loaded with sugar. Make your plate colorful with a variety of veggies, legumes, and whole grains. Fiber does a body good.


[1] Magee, E. “Why You Need More Fiber.” WebMD, http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/why-you-need-more-fiber

[2] “Fiber: Start Roughing It!” Harvard School of Public Health, http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/fiber-full-story/index.html

[3] “Fiber: Start Roughing It!” Harvard School of Public Health, http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/fiber-full-story/index.html

[4] Mayo Clinic Staff. “Whole grains: Hearty options for a healthy diet” Mayo Clinic.com http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/whole-grains/NU00204

[5] Tresca, A. “Fiber” about.com: Inflammatory Bowel Disease, July 09,2009. http://ibdcrohns.about.com/od/dietandnutrition/g/fiber.htm

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