If you’re not consuming 25 to 30 grams of fiber every day, you are missing out an all the benefits of this important nutrient. Eating a sufficient amount of fiber lowers cholesterol, keeps you regular, helps with digestive problems, aids in weight control, and may help protect against cancer and heart disease.
Fiber is the indigestible parts of plant food. It is in the skins of potatoes, the thin strings in celery, and the husks of oats and wheat and seeds, among other things.
A few simple changes in diet will ensure that you are getting all the fiber you need, but a word of caution: increase your fiber intake gradually. If you suddenly overload your system, you are likely to suffer from gas, bloating and constipation.
Take one or two of these easy steps each week, and discover how much better you will soon look and feel.
* Change your bread from white to whole wheat. One slice of white contains 0.6 g of fiber; one slice of whole wheat contains 1.6 g.
* Start the day with a glass orange juice, the type that contains lots of pulp.
* Have whole grain, unsweetened cereal for breakfast. Look for one that contains at least 5 g of fiber per serving.
* Leave the skins on vegetables and fruit when possible: white and sweet potatoes, cucumbers, tomatoes and apples all have edible, fiber-rich peels.
* Seeds make a tasty, nourishing snack: sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds are crunchy and handy to carry along in a baggie when you’re on the move.
* Many nuts are rich in fiber. Almonds are best, but peanuts and walnuts are also good sources of fiber.
* Have a green salad with low-fat dressing each evening before dinner. It’s low in calories, rich in fiber and fills you up, so you are less likely to overeat at the main course.
* When you make rice pudding, use brown rice instead of white. Brown rice is just white that has not had the bran covering removed, so it is considered a whole grain, and it has 3 times the amount of fiber.
* When making a sandwich, substitute lettuce and tomato for cheese; this will add fiber and it has the additional benefit of cutting calories.
* Try eating some of your daily servings of vegetables raw. A cup of baby carrots and broccoli florets contains about 5 g of fiber.
* Sprinkle raspberries on cereal or desserts. One cup contains 5.8 g of fiber.
* Adding 1/2 cup of kidney beans to a salad will net you almost 10 g of fiber.
As you increase the amount of fiber in your diet, it is important to also increase the amount of water and other fluids you are drinking. This will facilitate the movement of material through the intestines in a timely and efficient manner, and make blockages unlikely.
Begin your fiber regimen slowly while increasing your fluid intake proportionately. Soon your improved health, appearance, and a satisfying sense of achievement will be ample reward for the changes you have made in your daily dietary routine.