Written by Danielle Maina
Fiber. We’ve heard about it, we know it is “good” for us, but do many know WHY it has such a great reputation? According to the National Library of Medicine, in 2014, Americans are only consuming HALF of the recommended daily intake of fiber (women needing up to 25 mg/day and men up to 38 mg/day). Fiber is crucial in reducing the risk of chronic diseases such as cancer, obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and even certain gastrointestinal disorders. Fiber is classified into two different forms: soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber dissolves in water to form a gel-like substance. This form of fiber helps to lower blood cholesterol and control blood glucose levels. You can find soluble fiber in various foods such as beans, flaxseeds, citrus fruits, oats, apples, carrots, and grains such as barley. Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water and aids in the movement of material through your gastrointestinal tract, normalizing bowel movements (easing constipation) and reducing the risk of developing diverticulosis (small pouches in the colon) and hemorrhoids. You can find insoluble fiber in foods such as nuts, beans and vegetables (green beans, cauliflower), whole-wheat flour, wheat bran and potatoes. In addition to the benefits above, fiber aids in achieving a healthy weight by making you feel more full, preventing you from over-eating, and requiring you to chew more due to the fibrous content of the food. Increasing your fiber intake can be done easily in your daily routine. Simply focus on eating whole grains, make sure you try to eat fruit and/or vegetables with every meal or as a snack, in your baked goods by switching to whole-wheat flour instead of white flour, adding beans to salads and soups, or sprinkling seeds such as flaxseeds to your cereal, oatmeal or yogurt!
Originally published to our Facebook page on Oct 14, 2014