The Importance of Fiber
Fiber is a powerful tool for weight loss and it should make up the bulk of your carbohydrate intake. It helps you to feel full and is usually low calorie / high volume but most people do not actually understand what fiber is. Fiber is the indigestible portion of plant foods, which cannot get absorbed into the blood stream. The main functions of fiber in your diet are:
- Help with bowel function, removing toxins, preventing constipation, and helping with digestive ailments.
- Delay sugar absorption, which helps regulate blood sugar levels.
- Bind with cholesterol which may help lower “bad”, or LDL, cholesterol levels, thereby reducing the risk for obesity, heart disease, hypertension, and stroke.
Fiber comes in one of two different components:
- Soluble fiber; is fiber that is fermented in the colon and helps with the production of good bacteria in the bowel. Good sources of soluble fiber include oat bran, nuts, dried beans, dried peas, many fresh fruits and vegetables, flax seeds and psyllium husk.
- Insoluble fiber; moves bulk through the intestines, promotes a balanced pH in the intestines and promotes regular bowel movements. Sources of insoluble fiber include dark, leafy green vegetables and green beans, fruit and root vegetable skins, whole wheat products and many seeds and nuts.
People who have diabetes, or are at risk of diabetes, should eat foods that are high in soluble fiber because it can help regulate blood sugar levels. Soluble fiber has also been found to help people who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and can reduce the risk for colorectal cancer.
In the United States, it has been estimated that people only get about half the daily recommended levels of fiber. Most nutritionists recommend that adults eat between 25 to 30 grams of fiber each day. Here are some fiber-rich foods:
- Almonds: 25 nuts contain 3.5 grams of fiber
- Apples: cored but with the skin contains 3.2 grams of fiber
- Avocado: ½ medium size contains 6.7 grams of fiber
- Carrots: ½ cup contains 2.5 grams of fiber
- Dried Beans: ½ cup contains 7 grams of fiber
- Oranges: 1 medium contains 3.8 grams of fiber
- Tomatoes: 1 medium contains 1.5 grams of fiber
We are often asked if juice is as good as the whole food. As far as fiber is concerned, the answer would be, no. Juices are more concentrated calories and require no chewing. Large amounts can be consumed without you feeling full. Where one apple might help you feel full, it takes two to three apples to make one glass of juice and you don’t feel full when you drink it. The removal of the fiber concentrates the sugar and calories. This can contribute to gaining pounds because you want to eat more to feel full.
Have questions? Call the certified health coaches at 1-800-980-7208 or browse through the other articles on our site to learn more.