As you likely already know, getting enough fiber in your diet is a critical aspect of your health since it:
However, you may still have questions such as, what is the best source of fiber? What are the two kinds of fiber? Why do we need both? And, what percentage of my carbohydrates should be made up of fiber?
Ah, so many questions in need of answers—let’s begin!
First, let’s go over how much fiber you need in your diet each day, although let’s also explain just what fiber is, which is a carbohydrate.
Of course, you may think, “Aren’t carbohydrates what make us fat? Aren’t we supposed to limit them for this reason?”
Well, yes and no. The fact is, carbohydrates are like proteins and fats in that there is more than one type. For carbohydrates, this can mean everything from very simple sugars which digest very rapidly, to more complex and harder-to-digest compounds up to the point of being indigestible.
However, while it is true that consumption of simple carbohydrates can lead to weight gain, complex carbohydrates break down slowly enough to enable your body to use the calories more efficiently, and without having to store them as fat.
So far as fiber, it is made up of carbohydrates which are too complex for your body to break down, which enables it to act like the bristles of a cleaning brush in your colon.
However, too much fiber is nearly as bad as not enough, since it can cause—rather than alleviate—constipation, along with a few other unpleasant digestive problems such as bloating, gas and diarrhea.
Of course, this brings us back to the question of what percentage of our carbohydrates should fiber make up?
So far as going with 10:1, this is about the ratio which natural whole grains provide. However, when it comes to packaged foods, 5:1 is the rule, and for a simple reason: You are not just weighing the naturally-occurring carbs and fibers, but rather, carbs, fibers, added sugars, hydrogenated fats and chemicals with names most of us don’t even bother to try and pronounce.
This means either looking for a 5:1 carb/fiber balance on packaged foods, or better yet, avoiding processed foods entirely and sticking with a diet of natural whole foods which delivers a 10:1 ratio.
Go with option 2. It’s better for you AND better tasting.
Next, you need to know the difference between soluble and insoluble fiber—both of which are necessary for your digestive health.
Soluble fiber is, as the name indicates, soluble in liquid which then causes it to become a bulky, gelatinous substance.
And, it has some key benefits:
Next, we have insoluble fiber, which is fiber that doesn’t absorb water or change consistency in your system. By remaining intact, it essentially “scrubs” and physically removes waste matter in the colon, which is critical when it comes to things such as carcinogens which can cause cancer if left in contact with the colon wall too long.
So, to maintain optimum digestive health, aim for about 25-30g of fiber each day, with 25% of it being soluble.
Of course, you may think, why bother dining on all kinds of roughage when there are convenient fiber supplements available?
Well, for one, if your diet is so lacking in fiber foods that you need a supplement, you probably have more to worry about than just getting enough fiber. This is because fiber foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains provide valuable nutrition which a diet lacking in them can’t provide.
Plus, getting your fiber from whole food sources rather than supplements means that you are getting it in its complete food form, which helps keep your digestion healthy and in sync.
And, foods such as avocados, mangos, sweet potatoes, whole grain oats and quinoa are not only excellent sources of soluble and insoluble fiber, but much better tasting than any processed foods could ever hope to be (our opinion to be sure, but a darn GOOD one)!
Of course, one reason many of us go with supplements is that we simply don’t have time to shop for and prepare fresh, fiber-rich ingredients each day.
However, here at Eat Rite Foods, we have your back: fresh, delicious, healthy meals delivered right to your door so that all you have to do is come home, relax and enjoy!
And, with such fiber-rich options as the brown rice chicken enchilada bowl or Carolina gold BBQ chicken with sweet potatoes and green beans, it is as delicious as it is convenient to get enough fiber in your diet.
So, what are you waiting for? For great taste and convenience, you AND your health deserve it!