Fiber is an important part of your diet and is essential for a healthy digestive tract, however, most Americans aren’t getting enough. The Daily Recommended Intake (DRI) for fiber is 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men, but the average American consumes only 15 grams per day.
Fiber comes from the structural part of plant foods that our bodies don’t digest. But just because we don’t absorb it, doesn’t mean fiber isn’t important. In fact, both soluble and insoluble fiber have powerful effects on your digestive health.
SOLUBLE FIBER VS. INSOLUBLE FIBER
Sometimes called “roughage,” insoluble fiber speeds digestion and adds bulk to the waste in your digestive tract. Examples of insoluble fiber include wheat bran, vegetables and whole grains. Put simply, insoluble fiber keeps you “regular.” It also can help reduce your risk of colon cancer and other diseases.
Soluble fiber, on the other hand, acts like a sponge, absorbing water and forming a gel in your GI tract. Examples of soluble include oat bran, barley, nuts, seeds, beans, peas and some fruits and vegetables; it’s also found in psyllium. Soluble fiber helps soften stool, slow the absorption of sugar and protect against heart disease by helping to lower cholesterol. It also feeds the good gut bacteria.
FIBER FOR WEIGHT LOSS
Fiber can also be a strong ally if you’re trying to lose weight. Because it’s digested slowly, it can help you feel full and satisfied between meals. It also allows you to eat fewer calories without feeling overly hungry.
READ MORE > 15 HIGH-FIBER RECIPES THAT’LL KEEP YOU SATISFIED
FIBER IN FOOD
Where can you find fiber in your diet? Good sources of fiber include: whole fruits and vegetables, leafy greens, beans and legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains like whole wheat, brown rice, oats and barley. Although all plant foods naturally contain fiber, refined and highly processed foods (Think: white flour, white rice and apple juice) are stripped of it, so steer clear of those if you’re looking to increase your fiber intake.
Here is a meal-by-meal breakdown to help you get the recommended amount of fiber every day, including a simple egg sandwich, Mediterranean barley with chickpeas, an apple with peanut butter and high-fiber chicken and black bean enchiladas for a grand total of about 33 grams of fiber.
Here are 8 more ways to sneak fiber into your day.