March is National Nutrition Month, and, to kick it off, we’re talking about fiber. Do you get enough fiber in your diet? Read on to find out the benefits of fiber and which foods are the best sources for your fiber fix.
What is Fiber?
Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that the body cannot digest. Because it cannot be broken down into sugar molecules, fiber simply passes through the body undigested. This makes fiber an important player in regulating the body’s use of sugars, keeping hunger and blood sugar in check.
There are two types of fiber, and both are good for you.
- Soluble fiber dissolves in water and can help lower glucose levels and blood cholesterol. Soluble fiber can be found in foods like oatmeal, nuts, beans, lentils, apples, and blueberries.
- Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water and can help food move through your digestive system, aiding in regularity and preventing constipation. Insoluble fiber can be found in foods like wheat, whole wheat breads, whole grain couscous, brown rice, legumes, carrots, cucumbers, and tomatoes.
Overall, the best sources for fiber include whole grain foods, fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, and nuts.
How Much Do We Need?
For good health, it is recommended that children and adults get at least 20-30 grams of fiber per day. However, most Americans only ingest a mere 15 grams a day. To increase your fiber intake, try these tips:
- Opt for whole fruits rather than sugary fruit juices.
- Swap white rice, bread, and pasta for brown rice and whole grain products.
- Choose cereals with a whole grain listed as their first ingredient.
- Skip the chips, crackers, and chocolate bars and snack on raw vegetables instead.
- Substitute meat with beans or legumes two to three times a week in chili or soups.
It appears that fiber helps to reduce the risk of developing various conditions.
- High intake of dietary fiber has been linked to a lower risk of heart disease, as well as metabolic syndrome.
- Studies have shown that diets low in fiber and high in foods that cause sudden increases in blood sugar may increase the risk of Type 2 Diabetes.
- Eating dietary fiber, particularly insoluble fiber, was associated with about a lower risk of 40% lower risk of diverticular disease.
- Fiber helps to relieve and prevent constipation, one of the more common gastrointestinal complaints in the US.
Now that you know a bit more about fiber, are you getting enough? What’s your favorite fiber-rich food or meal? Share with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and LinkedIn! You can also find us on Instagram, Vine, and Pinterest.
Visit the Brick Market & Deli – Your Neighborhood Deli in Pomona on the corner of E Arrow Hwy & Garey Ave. You can order ahead online or visit us in store weekdays 10:30am-7:30pm and Saturdays 10:30am-4:30pm.