The American Heart Association recommends getting 21-25 grams of fiber each day if you're a woman, and 30-38 grams if you are a man. Do you think you are getting this much fiber each day? If you are not, then you are not alone; the average American has a daily fiber intake of only about 15 grams. It is important to be getting enough each day. Fiber keeps food moving through your body, and can prevent constipation. Fiber can help reduce the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, and can also lower the risk of developing several types of cancers. Getting enough fiber each day can improve your cholesterol and blood pressure. Fiber also helps your feel fuller longer, which in turn prevents overeating.
There are two types of fiber: soluble fiber, which helps to keep your blood sugar controlled and lowers cholesterol, and insoluble fiber, which keeps the food moving through your body. Insoluble fiber includes food such as fruits, vegetables and grains. Soluble fiber includes foods such as fruits, barley, oats, beans, peas. When the soluble fiber mixes with liquid, it forms a gel which is responsible for lowering your cholesterol and controlling your blood sugar. Both types of fibers are not digestible by the body. When reading the food label, be sure that the food has at least 10% of the daily value of dietary fiber. If you are not used to fiber, add it to your diet slowly. Eating too much at once can cause rushed trips to the bathroom, bloating or gas pains. Be sure to drink plenty of water to keep the fiber moving all the way through.
Here are five tasty ways to boost your fiber intake each day:
- Eat oatmeal for breakfast-Oatmeal is packed full of soluble fiber. Add some raspberries on top for added fiber.
- Snack on nuts and seeds-You can even buy these in snack sized bags.
- Eat lentils for dinner- Lentils are cheap and very healthy for you. Adding lentils to soups and vegetarian dishes will get you closer to the recommend amount of fiber for the day.
- Choose whole grain bread over white bread: Be sure that the first ingredient listed says whole grain wheat. If it says enriched flour, then they are just tricking you into thinking it is whole wheat, when in reality it is just colored brown. One piece of whole wheat bread can give you up to 5 grams of fiber.
- Eat 5 a day- By eating a mixture of 5 fruits and vegetables a day, you can increase your fiber intake. Never remove the skins of the fruits, because they contain a lot of fiber.