What is Fiber?

Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that the body actually can’t digest and instead passes through the body undigested. As explained by the Harvard School of Public Health, it comes in two forms, which are both beneficial to our overall health:

  • Soluble fiber, which dissolves in water, can help lower glucose levels as well as help lower blood cholesterol. Foods with soluble fiber include oatmeal, nuts, beans, lentils, apples and blueberries.
  • Insoluble fiber, which does not dissolve in water, can help food move through your digestive system, promoting regularity and helping prevent constipation. Foods with insoluble fiber include wheat, whole wheat bread, whole grain couscous, brown rice, legumes, carrots, cucumbers and tomatoes.

Why is Fiber Important?

Fiber is essential in maintaining gut and digestive health and helps to prevent conception. In addition, fiber helps regulate the body’s use of sugars, helping to keep hunger and blood sugar in check. Numerous studies have also proven that consuming the recommended daily intake of fiber can reduce the risk of developing various conditions, including heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

How to Increase Your Fiber Intake

As cited by the Mayo Clinic, men ages 50 and younger need 38 grams of fiber a day and women ages 50 and younger need 25 grams a day. Men older than 50 need 30 grams a day and women older than 50 need 21 grams a day. However, most Americans barely consume half of these recommended amounts. Before you reach for the fiber supplements, though, keep in mind that fiber is found naturally in whole, nutritious foods. Listed below are easy ways you can naturally increase your daily intake of fiber:

  • Choose fiber rich snacks, such as fruits, vegetables or popcorn.
  • Skip packaged fruit or vegetable juices and choose fresh fruit and vegetables.
  • Replace white rice, bread, and pasta with brown rice and whole grain products.
  • Include more vegetables in your meals and eat them first.
  • Include more beans or legumes in your meals. You can even substitute them for meat chili and soups.

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