While most everyone knows that fiber is good for you, what a lot of us don’t know is WHY. Nor do many have the slightest clue how much fiber we need on a daily basis, the health benefits it provides, the difference between soluble and insoluble fiber, or even which foods are fiber-rich. Curious about those answers? (By the way, the correct answer is YES!) Then read on…
What is fiber?
Dietary fiber is found naturally in plants and is specifically the part of the plant that doesn’t break down in our stomachs. Instead, it passes through our system undigested, yet plays an intricate role in our digestion. Fiber is either soluble or insoluble, and both are equally important to our digestive health.
What’s the difference between soluble and insoluble fiber?
- SOLUBLE FIBER dissolves in water to form a gel-like substance that slows down the absorption of food, which in effect allows the body to retain more nutrients. It’s found in beans, oats, lentils, flaxseed, psyllium husks, citrus fruits, apples, cucumbers, and carrots.
- INSOLUBLE FIBER does NOT dissolve in water, therefore it passes through the GI tract, speeding up the passing of food and waste. It helps remove toxins from your colon, balances intestine acidity, and helps keep you regular. Insoluble fiber is found in whole wheat, nuts, brown rice, cauliflower, zucchini, green beans, and dark green leafy veggies. It’s also found in the skin of fruits as well as most root vegetables (so DON’T peel your fruits and veggies).
Why does your body need fiber?
For starters, fiber adds volume to your food so you feel full longer. At the same time, fiber also helps your body digest food as it moves along your digestive tract. In addition, fiber also helps slow down the absorption of glucose into your bloodstream, which helps your body avoid blood sugar spikes. And if that were not enough, fiber has been known to improve a myriad of other digestive- and health-related conditions. So let’s just say, fiber is EXTREMELY good for you. Eat lots of it!
How much fiber do you need every day?
Chances are, you need waaaaaay more than you’re probably getting. Women should get 25 grams of fiber per day. And men need a whopping 35–40 grams per day. However, the average person gets a measly 15 grams per day.
The good news is, if you’re drinking Shakeology you’re getting 6 grams of fiber per serving. Throw in some fruit and veggies, and that number quickly goes up. However, you still need more. So here are 10 delicious, extremely fiber-rich foods you can add to your diet to help make sure you’re getting your fill of fiber!
10 delicious foods packed with fiber:
- Lentils = 15.6 g per cup
- Pinto beans, cooked = 15.4 g per cup
- Black beans = 15 g per cup
- Pumpkin, canned = 13 g per half cup
- Soy beans, cooked = 10.3 g per half cup
- Artichokes = 10.3 g per whole choke
- Avocado = 10 g per whole fruit
- Raspberries = 8 g per cup
- Pear = 5.5 g per whole fruit
- Broccoli = 5.1 g per cup
Increase fiber, slowly but surely.
Instead of overloading your system all at once, you’ll want to slowly increase your fiber intake over a two-week period of time so your body can adapt more easily. This will help reduce uncomfortable side effects such as gas, bloating, and cramping. And since soluble fiber absorbs water, be sure to increase your water intake as well.
And that’s the scoop on fiber. Cheers to your health!