Almost everyone knows that fiber in the diet is important, but few know exactly what it is or what it does.
Fiber helps keep you fuller longer and helps reduce cravings for unhealthy food.
Fiber will keep you regular and can guard against cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
Insoluble fiber is found in whole grains and on the outside of seeds, fruits, legumes, and other foods. It is also called roughage. Its job is to hold onto water in your digestive system. It uses this water to move waste through your intestine and get rid of all of the toxins and material that your body doesn't need. Insoluble fiber acts like a sponge. It absorbs water and then swells up inside of your intestine, producing a "full feeling."
The other type of fiber is soluble fiber. It is found in fruits, vegetables, seeds, brown rice, barley, oats, and oat bran. It works by passing through the intestine and forming a "gel" like substance. Fiber and digestive enzymes made by the liver form this gel. Soluble fiber works on a chemical level to prevent and reduce the absorption of certain substances that are harmful to the body.
Getting the benefits of fiber is as simple as switching from a diet high in processed foods to a whole foods diet. Your diet should emphasize fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains, nuts and seeds. The best way to increase your fiber is through high fiber foods, and not fiber supplements since most fiber supplements are just purified cellulose. Eating whole foods provides you with fiber and other important nutrients and minerals.
Sufficient daily fiber intake is important, not just because of helping the bowels function, but to provide nutrients to friendly bacteria in the digestive tracts. Low-fiber diets have been connected to numerous diseases and conditions such as colon cancer, constipation, Crohn's disease, diverticulitis, heart disease, high blood pressure, hemorrhoids and varicose veins are examples. Correcting low fiber intake for your diet can also help you achieve regular bowel movements necessary for optimum health.
White bread, pasta and processed foods are very low in fiber. Whole grains, fruits and vegetables provide fiber along with a lot of other important nutrients. These foods are lower in calories, fat and preservatives. When you eat whole, fiber-rich foods you'll lose weight, have more energy and feel more satisfied after meals. Adding more foods high in dietary fiber from the high fiber food chart can help you obtain the recommended 25-30 grams of fiber each day.
|Chart of Food High in Fiber|
|Product||Serving Size||Total Fiber (grams)|
|Almonds||1 ounce (23 nuts)||3.5|
|Apple, with skin||1 medium||4.5|
|Baked beans, canned||1 cup||10.0|
|Barley, pearled, cooked||1 cup||6.0|
|Black beans, boiled||1 cup||15.0|
|Bran flakes||3/4 cup||5.5|
|Bread, rye||1 slice||2.0|
|Bread, whole-wheat||1 slice||2.0|
|Broccoli, boiled||1 cup chopped||5.0|
|Brown rice, cooked||1 cup||3.5|
|Brussels sprouts, boiled||1 cup||4.0|
|Carrot, raw||1 medium||1.5|
|Cauliflower, raw||1 cup chopped||2.0|
|Chia seeds||1 ounce||10.0|
|Green peas, boiled||1 cup||9.0|
|Lentils, boiled||1 cup||15.5|
|Oat bran muffin||1 medium||5.0|
|Oatmeal, instant, cooked||1 cup||5.0|
|Potato, with skin, baked||1 medium||4.0|
|Pistachios||1 ounce (49 nuts)||3.0|
|Popcorn, air-popped||3 cups||3.5|
|Quinoa, cooked||1 cup||5.0|
|Spaghetti, whole-wheat, cooked||1 cup||6.0|
|Split peas, boiled||1 cup||16.0|
|Sunflower kernels||1 ounce||3.0|
|Sweet corn, boiled||1 cup||3.5|
|Turnip greens, boiled||1 cup||5.0|
Source: USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference
One of the best natural foods high in dietary fiber is psyllium made from ground-up psyllium seeds.
When making changes to your diet to include more foods from the high fiber food chart, just add a few grams at a time so your intestinal tract can adjust. Moving from 15 grams to 35 grams immediately may cause gas and bloating. Increasing your fiber level gradually over two weeks is the best approach.
How Much Fiber a Day do We Need?
The daily recommended allowance for fiber is between 25 to 35 grams for adults. It is estimated that most people get 15 grams or fewer.
It is important for bowel health that adequate liquid be present for good bowel function. Each fiber particle absorbs liquid in the colon which helps facilitate regular movement along in the bowels, so make sure that you are consuming adequate liquids daily.
If you find that after a few weeks of consuming more foods from the high fiber food chart you are still not having a daily bowel movement, consider adding a fiber supplement. Although it is preferable to seek fiber in whole food form, supplements can help you stay regular and keep your digestive system active. According to the Mayo Clinic, there are no long-term harmful effects from taking daily fiber supplements. If you're struggling with a digestive disorder like irritable bowel syndrome, then this might be an option in addition to changing your diet.
It may take several weeks to achieve daily bowel movements, but the reward will be that wastes and toxins will be eliminated from your system instead of your body reabsorbing them.