We all need a daily dose of it, but most experts agree that we aren’t including enough fiber in our diets.
Fiber helps the immune system work properly, supports bowel regularity and improves bone health. Yet, we only get about half of the daily dose of fiber our bodies need. According to Mayo Clinic, men aged 50 or younger need at least 38 grams of fiber per day. For men aged 51 or older, 30 grams. Women aged 50 or younger need 25 grams of fiber, whereas women aged 51 or older need 21 grams.
Dietary fiber – found mainly in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes – not only prevents or relieves constipation, but can help you maintain a healthy weight and lower your risk of diabetes and heart disease. Unlike other food components, such as fats, proteins or carbohydrates – which your body breaks down and absorbs – fiber isn’t digested by the body. Instead, it passes relatively intact through your stomach, small intestine, colon and out of your body.
There are two classifications for fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber dissolves in water as a gel-like substance and slows down digestion, helping you feel fuller. It also helps lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels. This type of fiber can be found in oatmeal, lentils, flaxseeds, beans, blueberries, peas, pears, apples, carrots, and psyllium.
Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water. It helps pass food and waste through your digestive system, helping to prevent constipation. Sources of this type of fiber include: brown rice, whole wheat and grains, potatoes, dark leafy vegetables, cabbage, tomatoes, and raisins.
Some creative thinking can make taking more fiber, well, easier to swallow. For example:
As you can see, there are various tasty ways you can incorporate fiber into your diet. For more recipes, check out these vegan recipes!