Why Eat Fiber, and What is it Exactly?
Fiber is found in the cell walls of plants; it provides structure and functions like a skeleton for the plant. It’s not digestible by us humans, so it doesn’t provide us with nutrients or calories. It is however, critical to our health. There are two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble.
Soluble fiber is dissolved in water, therefore in our digestive systems. It helps regulate blood sugar and is linked to lowering cholesterol and the risk of heart disease. Some examples are oats, dried beans/peas, nuts, flax and various fruits.
Insoluble fiber passes through our system because it can’t be fully broken down. It helps keeps our digestive tract regular. Some examples are various vegetables (ie. cauliflower, kale), fruit skins, seeds, brown rice and lentils.
Both the soluble and insoluble versions are important to our gut and bowel health.
Benefits of Fiber
- Assists with gut and bowel health. Essentially, it keeping things moving in and out of your system, regularly. Daily bowel movements are often a sign of good gut health and something everyone should be aiming for.
- Helps lower blood sugar levels.
- Reduces hunger. It keeps you feeling fuller for longer, which can help you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.
- Keeps healthy bacteria in check. When you are regular, your gut is healthier and more healthy gut bacteria is able to thrive.
How to Eat More Fiber
Fiber is present in many unprocessed, slow digesting carbohydrate foods such as:
- Beans: most varieties contain more than 10 grams per cup. Add beans and chick peas to your stir fries, soups and stews or use them as a salad topping.
- Steel cut Oats and All-Bran: roll your meats in these ingredients for your own coating or use them as a topping to your veggie or casserole dishes. Free free to throw them into your breakfast shakes as well.
- Seeds and nuts: add them to your salads, stir fries, veggie side dishes, casseroles and breakfast shakes.
- Fruit and vegetable skins: try not to peel fruits and veggies with edible skins. As an example, I keep the skin on my potatoes even when I’m mashing them.
To Sum it Up…
Fiber is important to our gut and bowel health. It helps lower blood sugar levels, keeps us feeling full and ensures our healthy gut bacteria is maintained. We should all aim to consume more of it each day by eating more beans, steel cut oats, whole grains, as well as more nuts and seeds. Vegetable and fruits with their skins on are also a great source of fiber.