Why You Need More Fiber
“You need more fiber.” We’ve all heard it before, from the doctor, from a concerned friend. But they’ve all said it for good reason! Fiber is critical for your entire body to work properly. From digestion to blood sugar, your body needs it.
- A diet full of fiber will help to maintain healthy blood cholesterol by lowering your bad cholesterol levels (LDL).
- Fiber slows the absorption of sugar, improving your blood sugar levels, which in turn leads to a reduced risk of diabetes.
- And, if that’s not enough, it’s a key player in maintaining your ideal weight because fibrous food gives you fewer calories, while making you feel fuller.
Two Types of Fiber
Your body doesn’t need just one kind of fiber. There are two types that work in different ways to improve everything your body does.
This type of fiber helps lower your glucose and blood cholesterol levels. It attracts water and then turns into to a gel-like substance, which slows down your digestion. This is a key reason why fiber is critical to weight control: a slower digestion makes you feel full longer. In addition, slower digestion improves your insulin sensitivity, which translates to a lower risk of diabetes.
Types of soluble fiber include:
This type of fiber is what helps your bowel movements stay regular. Unlike soluble fiber, insoluble fiber does not turn to gel, and thus moves quickly through the gastrointestinal track quickly moving food and waste through your gut. If you struggle with constipation, you may need more insoluble fiber.
Types of insoluble fiber include:
- Green beans
Get More Fiber
Knowing that you need more fiber isn’t enough. First you have to consider how you can include more of it into your regular diet. Here are three recipes to help you get more fiber every day.
Pancakes are a delicious weekend breakfast treat. But, on their own, they aren’t very fibrous. To get your fill of fiber, simply change the basic pancake recipe just a bit.
- ½ cup flour
- ½ whole wheat flour
- 1 tbsp. sugar
- ½ tsp. salt
- 1 egg, beaten
- 2 tbsp. coconut oil
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup blueberries
- ½ cup chopped strawberries
- ½ cup crushed walnuts
Mix your dry ingredients in one bowl, and the wet ingredients in another. Combine the two, stirring until the batter is smooth. After you pour batter onto the pan, add a few berries and a handful of nuts –if you add them to the mix they’ll just fall to the bottom. Serve with Vermont maple syrup and a side of sliced apples.
A Fibrous Salad
Salad is a great option for any meal of the day, but a few greens, some creamy dressing and a handful of cheese is not only unhealthy but provides minimal fiber.
Instead, bulk up your salad for a satisfying and filling meal.
- A handful of spring mix
- A handful of spinach
- 1/3 cup cucumbers
- 1/3 cup shredded carrots
- 2 tbsp. bulgar
- 10 almonds
- Drizzle of olive oil
- Drizzle of vinegar (choose from balsamic, apple cider, or sherry vinegar)
This large, and filling, salad will keep you full longer and provide a handful of health benefits.
A Few Fiber-friendly Combinations
- Omelet: 2 eggs, chopped cauliflower, shredded carrots, diced zucchini, and Swiss cheese. Serve with a side of whole grain toast.
- Bean Salad: White beans, cranberries, raisins, chopped spinach, halved cherry tomatoes, shredded Parmesan, olive oil, salt and pepper.
- Quick Snack: Sticks of celery and carrots, whole broccoli crowns, and sliced pears with original hummus.
Fiber should be a staple in everyone’s diet. With regular bowel movements, lower blood pressure and a decreased risk of diabetes, it just makes sense. Try these recipes, or see how you can tweak your own to bulk up an otherwise “skimpy” meal. A few swaps are all you need to say, “More fiber? Trust me, I get plenty.”