Dietary fiber or roughage is the non-digestible portion of the plant cell wall, which when ingested, helps our food travel easily through the digestive tract. Adequate intake of fiber is associated with easier elimination of waste and a lessened chance of experiencing the woes of constipation. It is important to realize that it is not normal to have only one bowel movement a week. An adequate amount of fiber plays an extremely important role in the health and function of our digestive system. Let’s take a closer look at why fiber is such a necessary part of overall good health.
As you may well know, there are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber is the part of fiber that dissolves in water. When consumed, it absorbs water and turns into a gel-like substance. This fact makes it important to drink more water when adding soluble fiber to the diet. This type of fiber helps “lower cholesterol, stabilizes blood sugar, slows digestion, and helps your body bind and eliminate toxins.” Don Colbert, MD “Eat this and live” It can also aid in attaining a healthy weight by making you feel full longer. All plant based foods have some soluble fiber, but some foods have more than others. Good sources of this type can be found in dried beans, citrus fruits, apples, Brussels sprouts and seeds, such as flaxseeds.
Insoluble fiber is the part of the plant that cannot be digested. It plays an important role in the weight of our stool and it increases the frequency of our bowel movements. The more we go, the cleaner our digestive tract and the better we feel. The longer waste stays in our colon, the chance of toxins being re-released into our bloodstream increases. Nuts, beans, green leafy vegetables, potatoes and broccoli are all excellent sources of this type of fiber. To get the biggest ‘bang for your buck’, it’s best to eat the whole fruit or vegetable versus drinking it’s juice only. This way you get the best of both worlds. When eating the skin of a fruit or vegetable, go for the organic version to decrease the chance of consuming pesticides.
If you are just beginning to add fiber to your diet, it is recommended that you add it slowly to minimize the effects of gas and bloating. Talk to a medical practitioner or dietitian before making drastic changes to your diet.
Here are a few quick and easy tips on how to add fiber to your daily meals:
- Add berries and seeds to cereal
- Add nuts and mandarin orange slices to salads
- Sprinkle ground flaxseeds or chia seeds on smoothie bowls
- Switch to whole grain pastas and breads
- Add chickpeas to curry dishes
- Add stir fried vegetables over brown rice
You can also check out some great plant based recipes from the cookbook “Plants Only Kitchen” by Gaz Oakley
Now for the moment we’ve all been waiting for! Although this is not an exhaustive list, here are 10 Fiber Rich Foods that Help Keep Our Bodies Clean Inside:
|Split peas, boiled||16g per cup|
|Lentils, boiled||15.5g per cup|
|Black beans, boiled||15g per cup|
|Chia Seeds||10g per ounce|
|Raspberries||8g per cup|
|Spaghetti, whole wheat, cooked||6g per cup|
|Bran flakes||5.5g per 3/4 cup|
|Broccoli||5g per cup|
|Quinoa, cooked||5g per cup|
This list is just the ‘tip of the iceberg’, so go ahead and explore the wonderful world of fiber. Whether it’s lowering cholesterol, regulating blood sugar or keeping the colon healthy, an adequate intake of fiber will definitely do your body good!
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*The content of this article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended for medical advice.