Fiber is essential to a healthy diet and is easily available. Unfortunately, a lack of fiber is surprisingly a prevalent health issue. People who lack fiber experience constipation, weight issues, gut issues, and even mental issues. This very unassuming yet critical component in a healthy diet can really determine your good health, so ensure that you get plenty of it.
What is fiber and why do I need it?
Fiber, put simply is plant roughage. Think of plant roughage as the indigestible fibers that ‘sweep’ your digestive system clean as the roughage physically binds to waste matter, helping you to eliminate it.
Fiber is often associated with healthy bowel movements, but that’s just the surface. You need fiber to get rid of toxins, excess hormones, and even cholesterol, all of which go beyond having regular bathroom trips. Fibers ability to help the body rid itself of waste material helps to ensure that your metabolism stays on track, that your immune system stays strong, your hormones stay balanced, your liver cleansed and issues such as gut, heart, and cardiovascular disease are lessened.
There are two types of fiber:
1. Insoluble fiber is fiber that doesn’t readily mix with water and other liquids in your digestive system. It instead bulks up the waste in your body so that you can more easily excrete it. Insoluble fiber is what you need to literally help move things along in your digestive system.
2. Soluble fiber on the other hand quickly absorbs liquids in your digestive system to swell up and forms a gel. Soluble fiber is responsible for feeling full as well as aiding in digestion and stabilizing blood sugar levels.
Where can I get fiber?
Fiber is fortunately easy to come by. Focus on eating plant-based foods as all forms of plant based foods contain fiber.
1. Eat vegetables
Vegetables should comprise as the bulk majority of any healthy diet. Not only does eating more vegetables bulk up your fiber intake, you also give your body a wide host of minerals, vitamins and antioxidants through nutrient dense yet low calorie foods.
Vegetables that are particularly high in fiber include:
- Collard Greens
- Brussel sprouts
2. Eat wholegrains
The world of wholegrains is vast and with a little experimenting in the kitchen, you can easily bulk up any meal with fiber-rich whole grains. Thanks to the fiber content in wholegrains unlike their refined grain counterparts, wholegrains provide long-lasting sustained energy.
Going beyond your usual oats, rice and wheat, try add these other worldly whole grains that are chock-full of fiber with the added benefit of containing protein and minerals:
3. Eat Fruit
Like vegetables, eating fruit gives the added benefit of providing antioxidants, vitamins and minerals to an already fiber-rich plant food. Fruits especially are best eaten whole as their natural fibers prevent you from getting a spike in sugar. Regardless if it’s sugar from an inherently healthy source, even fruit sugars can cause a spike in insulin.
Fortunately, whole and fresh fruits are absolutely delicious and hard to beat. Get more of ‘nature’s candy’ with these fiber-rich fruits:
- Passion Fruit
- Berries (Raspberries, Strawberries, Blueberries etc.)
4. Eat Legumes
Legumes are often an underrated plant-based food. As very simple and unassuming ingredients, not to mention quite affordable, legumes are an excellent source of protein, which is beneficial for those who do not eat meat or avoid it. Legumes are rich in plant-protein and B-Vitamins, but unlike meat, have the benefit of being low in saturated fat and high in antioxidants. Like, grains, legumes go far beyond beans. Get more acquainted with this fiber-rich food group, your health and taste buds will thank you!
- Green Lentils
- Red Lentils
- Kidney Beans
- Black Beans
- Pinto Beans
- Peanuts (peanuts are surprisingly classified as a legume, and not a nut)
5. Eat Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are arguably the food worlds source for plant-based nutrition that’s enjoyed by most. Nuts and seeds go well in sweet and savory dishes and have the lovely ability to transform into a base for sauces, add a hearty crunch to entrees, add a healthy yet indulgent dimension to pastries, or just simply enjoyed fresh and by the handful.
These tiny plant foods though pack in some serious fiber. On top of that, nuts and seeds are an excellent source of healthy fats, protein, minerals and antioxidants. Whether you like to roast them, blend them into nut butters, use in your baking or cooking, nuts and seeds provide more fiber than you’d expect.
Try incorporate more of these fiber-rich nuts and seeds into your diet.
- Chia seeds
- Sunflower seeds
- Pine Nuts
- Brazil Nuts
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Sesame Seeds
Did you know that fiber and probiotics go hand in hand as a power pair for good gut health? Fiber and probiotics help your gut microbiome to thrive. Pair a diet rich in plant-based ingredients with a quality Probiotic supplement to help you look and feel good as well as support your overall wellness.