Fiber is abundant in plant foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, lentils, nuts, and seeds. Yet, it is the one nutrient that a lot of us do not get enough of in our diet. This is such a shame because diets high in fibre are linked to reduced rates of obesity, heart disease, cancer and type II diabetes – common problems in society today.
What is fiber?
Fiber is a type of carbohydrate found exclusively in plant foods. It comes in two varieties – soluble and insoluble. Soluble fibre is the type of fibre found in oatmeal, beans, and the flesh of fruit. This type of fibre dissolves in water and has been found to lower cholesterol and blood sugar and helps to curb the appetite. Insoluble fibre does not dissolve in water and is present in foods such as wheat, rye and other grains as well as in the skins of fruits and vegetables. This type of fibre is beneficial for promoting bowel movements and curbing appetite.
How much you need and how to incorporate more of it into your diet
On average, you need around 25g to 35g of fibre per day. If you have not been eating much fibre in your diet, it is essential to add it gradually to prevent discomfort. For example, switch from white rice to brown rice, eat whole oranges instead of drinking orange juice, and switch from white bread to whole wheat bread. In place of salty, sugary snacks, eat fruits or vegetables like carrots.
When you start adding more fibre to your diet, ensure you drink lots of water to prevent constipation and bloating. Six to eight glasses of plain water per day is an excellent place to start.
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