Fiber is something most Americans need to improve in their diet. After all, when you get enough fiber, you can have a “Regular” day and get the most benefit from your dietary intake. Join me as we uncover what fiber is and where to find it in food. Have a “Regular” Day with Fiber.
Fiber recommendations for Americans are 30 grams of fiber per day. More specifically the amount is 25 grams of fiber for women and 38 grams for men. The more fiber you take in, the more water you need to drink.
Americans generally are low in fiber due to eating many processed foods and only consume 15 grams of fiber per day. Around 95% of Americans are low in fiber. I know on a few given days when I am low in fiber the next day isn’t so “regular”.
What is Fiber?
Fiber is the part of a grain, fruit, or vegetable that is not digestible. Your body can’t break it down, so it has no calories and turns into a waste product. Celery, for example, has much fiber and with water in it, many say it takes more calories to break it down than you get out of the food. Fiber and water are needed for our body to empty its waste each day. It keeps our plumbing going.
Types of Fiber
Believe it or not, fiber just isn’t fiber. We have different kinds of fiber from different types of foods. Both kinds of fiber are good for the body in different ways.
Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water. It absorbs water and sometimes is called a “bulking agent”. This fiber moves through the digestive track fast. These are in seeds and skins of fruit. This is why it is important to eat the skin on our fruits if possible.
Soluble fiber dissolves in water and forms a gel-like substance. This one moves slower and helps our bodies control cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
Foods with Fiber- so you can have a Regular Day with Fiber
Fruits and vegetables give you both kinds of fiber with the peelings adding more fiber. When you are eating something with fiber try to aim for a minimum of 3-5 grams of fiber per serving. Foods in their natural state, or less processed will have more fiber in them.
If you eat two kiwis you will gain 4 grams of fiber and your digestive tract will love you. Eat beans and it will give you 15 grams of fiber. Whole wheat bread provides 3 grams of fiber. One cup oatmeal equals 4 grams of fiber. A bowl of Bran Flakes equals 7 grams of Fiber. Every bit of fiber you eat in foods adds up in a day.
- 1 Kiwi= 2 grams
- 1 slice 100% whole wheat toast= 3 grams
- 1 cup oatmeal= 4 grams
- 1 cup black beans= 15 grams
- 1 cup whole wheat spaghetti= 6 grams
If you ate all these foods in one day it would provide 30 grams of fiber. Here is a link to my blog called the broccoli challenge- and Let’s Talk Kiwi Fruit. Gather more recipes and info on these high fiber foods.
- Increasing your intake of fiber and water/fluids is going to help with weight loss. You will fill up with good low-calorie foods which will help in your weight loss.
2. Next, fiber will also help with the prevention of colon cancer and diverticulitis. The soluble fiber will help with blood sugars and cholesterol levels. All in all, when you increase these foods you will fill up and eat less of the foods that cause more problems in the gut and body.
3. New research is occurring on the role of fiber in the immune system. If you want more information on this and Fiber-rich foods, see this link from Today’s Dietitian. The Top Fiber-Rich Foods List (todaysdietitian.com)
Some medications can lead to constipation so make sure you get enough fiber and fluid. You must also look at exercise, fluids, and diet. I would encourage foods before a fiber product, mainly because of the cost and foods can be more enjoyable. Sometimes a fiber product is essential, especially with acute disease or problems.
- Prunes contain lots of fiber and sorbitol which is a natural laxative. Eat prunes as a snack or mix into cereal or blend into smoothies.
- Kiwis contain high amounts of fiber and taste good. The gel-like fiber absorbs water for easy gut transit. See the blog link on Let’s talk Kiwis to learn more about this fruit.
- Chia seeds can be added into smoothies and oatmeal or yogurt which also absorb water to form a gel.
- Beans, Peas, and Lentils are loaded with insoluble and soluble fiber. These are great ways to keep you regular.
- Coffee is also good to stimulate the digestive tract. Don’t do too much coffee/caffeine or dehydration will do just the opposite.
- Finally, a tea called “Smooth Move” is recommended for constipation and contains Senna. Drink before bed and it moves the GI at night. This is something not recommended daily but for occasional constipation.
High fiber Recipe
Quick and Easy Meal- Black Bean, Vegetable Egg skillet Recipe
- 1 can of black beans- drained and rinsed
- 1 can corn- drained
- 1 can diced tomatoes with green chilis
- 1 onion chopped
- 1 small Zucchini diced (if desired)
- ½ yellow pepper chopped
- 2 tsp garlic
- 1 tsp cumin
- Black pepper to taste
- 4-6 eggs
- ¼ cup feta, or mozzarella or swiss grated cheese
Sauté garlic, onion, pepper, zucchini for 5 minutes in a cast-iron skillet or large pan. Add spices, beans, corn, and tomatoes. Cook for 3 minutes to blend flavors, and crack 4-6 eggs on top and cook with a cover on top until eggs are your favorite doneness. 5-8 minutes. Sprinkle with Your favorite cheese before serving. Divide into 4-6 servings and serve with your favorite salad or breadsticks/toast.
Ways to Increase your fiber
Anytime you add raw veggies, fruit, or salads to your meal menus you are automatically increasing your fiber content in your diet. Finally, gradually make small changes in your menus and diet and soon you will be eating the recommendation for fiber in a day. Have a regular day with fiber.
- Consume fruits and veggies at all meals.
- Eat beans and lentils more often. 1-2x/week.
- Buy 100% whole wheat bread, whole-wheat pasta, brown rice, wild rice, and quinoa for more fiber.
- Try Oatmeal, steel-cut oats, and bran cereals, and grape nuts for breakfast
- Eat the peelings of your fruits= if edible.
- Use fresh and less processed foods.
- Add snacks high in fiber to your intake, such as fruit, nuts, seeds, and popcorn.
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