Dietary fiber may not be the most exciting nutrient, but it is an essential part of any healthy eating plan. It’s also vital to help keep your digestive system working … regularly.
And most of us just don’t get enough of it.
according to Academy of Nutrition and DieteticsThe general recommendation for daily fiber intake is 25 grams for adult women and 38 grams for adult men.
But only one study found that 5 percent Us achieve fiber goals.
Here’s what you need to know about the different types of fiber, why your body needs it, and how to get more fiber in your daily diet.
What is dietary fiber?
So what exactly is fiber? Dietary fiber – also known as coarse, loose, or just regular fiber – is plant carbohydrates that your body cannot break down.
As your body digests and uses nutrients like fat, protein and minerals, most of it is fiber It is not metabolized In the digestive system.
Instead, the fibers act as a broom to help remove waste from the body, he explains Mindy Hare, RDN, CDN, Clinical Associate Professor and Chair of the Interdisciplinary Health Sciences Division at New York Tech.
Soluble fiber versus insoluble fiber
There are two types of fiber – soluble and insoluble.
He says both types of fiber are equally important, and they should be included in the diet regularly Patricia Banan, MS, RDN, Nutritionist and Health Chef.
It explains that the soluble fiber dissolves in water to form a gel-like substance in the body, which slows down the digestive process.
This can help you You feel full for a longer time It may help Maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
Soluble fiber is found in oats, beans, nuts and seeds, and fruits such as apples and citrus fruits.
Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water and adds bulk to help ease movement through the digestive system.
Banan adds that this can help support regularity and treat temporary bowel movement problems.
Sources of insoluble fiber include whole grains, wheat bran, and vegetables such as potatoes cauliflower.
If you think about Fiber supplementsMake sure to choose one that contains both soluble and insoluble fiber.
Benefits of dietary fiber
So why is dietary fiber important? Here are some key benefits:
Dietary fiber can help you feel full, which helps prevent overeating.
Fiber can help Supporting heart health By helping to maintain healthy cholesterol levels within normal ranges.
Fiber can be beneficial for digestion and overall gut health.
“The fibers act as biomaterials, which increases the proliferation of probiotics in the gut,” says Har. “There are many types of probiotics [support] good health, So it consumes a variety of High-fiber foods It improves the environment of the gut. “
What are the easy ways to eat more fiber?
Whether you plan a meal for the week or cook a Virtual dinner with friendsThere are many ways to add more fiber to your meals.
“Adding more fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains to your diet is one of the easiest ways to increase your fiber intake,” Banan says. “Find a way to add a serving of vegetables to every meal.”
Har recommends these easy food swaps to increase your daily fiber intake:
- Switch from white to wholegrain bread. (Check the nutrition label and make sure each slice contains at least 3 grams of fiber.)
- Look for high-fiber breakfast cereals, or make homemade oatmeal.
- Replace pasta made with whole grains or beans with regular pasta.
- Replace brown rice with white rice.
- Try cooked whole wheat in the form of wheat berries, couscous, bulgur, or casha.
- Quinoa is a grain-like food that provides fiber and protein.
- Replace meat with beans or chickpeas in a few meals each week. (Chili black beans, anyone?)
Just be aware that large increases in dietary fiber can lead to increased flatulence, bloating, loose stools, or constipation.
So if you’re trying to increase your fiber intake, slow and steady wins the race.
Gradually increase your fiber intake and give your body time to adjust.
Make sure to increase your water intake as well, since fiber relies on water to pass it efficiently through your system.