Fiber, Fiber, Read All About It!
Fiber: the super nutrient that, for some reason, no one wants to talk about. But, while carbs and protein hog the spotlight, it’s fiber that really runs the show. From regulating your digestive system to keeping you full, eating the recommended 20 to 30 grams a day can add tons of perks to your daily life.
So, does Grandma have a point with her daily bowl o’ bran? Read on to find all the answers to your questions about this superstar nutrient.
So, what is fiber?
Put simply, fiber is a carbohydrate that your body can’t digest. Unlike fats, proteins, or most carbohydrates that are broken down and absorbed by your body, fiber passes through the stomach, small intestine, and colon as waste.
If it’s not digested, why is fiber so important?
For a nutrient that isn’t even absorbed into our bodies, fiber is ultra-important to our well-being. Fiber breaks up into two different types that fulfill two important jobs:
- The first type is soluble fiber. This type slows digestion and helps regulate sugar levels while digesting. It is found in foods such as oatmeal, nuts, beans, lentils, apples and blueberries.
- The second is insoluble fiber. This type speeds along food passing through the intestines. It is found in foods such as wheat, whole wheat bread, whole grain couscous, brown rice, legumes (like yellow peas!), carrots, cucumbers and tomatoes.
How do I incorporate more fiber into my meals?
The easiest way to get more fiber into your day is to eat whole fruits and veggies. Fiber exists in things that are hard to digest — like veggie peels, whole grains, and legumes. Snack on raw vegetables or swap out your usual starches for whole grains like brown rice or whole wheat flour. Also, look for products that include more of the plant in their production.
How do I know if I’m eating enough fiber?
One key indicator to see if you’re getting enough fiber is if you find yourself constantly ravenous. Since fiber cannot be digested and slows down the digestive system, it keeps you feeling fuller, longer. Incorporate a few fiber-rich meals into your day and pay attention to how “full” you feel after. (But you shouldn’t feel too stuffed!)
So, since I’m not absorbing it, but it keeps me fuller, where does fiber go?
Let’s talk about the thing we spent the whole article trying not to talk about: yes, fiber helps you “go” more efficiently. It speeds and bulks all the waste in your body to help it function properly, keeping the good stuff in and the bad stuff out.
So, do you have to eat a handful of raw seeds every morning? Absolutely not. But, besides getting in some good quality time, having a bowl o’ bran with Grandma has some major benefits. And with so many great fruits, veggies, and plant-fueled products out there, there’s absolutely nothing standing in the way of putting more fiber into your day!