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Fiber: What Does It Do?

Some people wonder if fiber is really that good for us.  Well, it is for many different reasons.  One of them being weight loss.  We will get back to that though. 

Fiber is linked to reductions in blood pressure, lowered cholesterol and like I said weight loss.  It also helps to increase insulin sensitivity which is good for those who are pre-diabetic or have metabolic syndrome.

What Is Fiber

Fiber is a molecule that cannot be broken down by the body.  There are 2 forms of fiber:

Soluble Fiber – This type of fiber dissolves in water and creates a gel-like substance in the stomach.  This gel-like substance helps move the digested food into your small intestine.  It helps to slow down the food absorption by the small intestine and results in a slow and steady release of nutrients into the bloodstream.

Soluble fiber also binds to bile that is produced and limits the amount cholesterol released into the blood stream.  This type of fiber also helps the microflora in our small intestine grow which protects us against other more harmful bacteria.

The second type of fiber is Insoluble fiber:

Insoluble fiber – This type of fiber does not break down when it enters the stomach.  It actually increases in size because it absorbs water much like a sponge does.  This type of fiber unlike the soluble type actually speeds up food absorption and acts as a “cleaner” taking on water as it travels through the intestine.  This helps clean out your intestines and allow your microflora work better to absorb the nutrients you eat.

How Fiber Can Help With Weight Loss

The major component of fiber is water which gives fiber its bulk.  Since this bulk is not digestible it makes you feel fuller for a longer period of time.  It helps you feel satisfied after you eat.  End result is you eat less food and this results in weight loss.

American’s are not even close to eating the recommended amount of fiber on a daily basis so here are some foods that are good sources of fiber:

 Fruits

Raspberries - a one cup serving has 8.0 grams of fiber
Pear (with skin) - 1 medium pear provides 5.5 grams of fiber
Medium Apple with skin - 1 medium apple provides you with 4.4 grams of fiber
Banana and orange - 1 medium banana or orange gives you 3.1 grams of fiber


Vegetables/Beans

Peas (cooked) - 1 cup of cooked peas gives you a whopping 8.8 grams of fiber

Broccoli - 1 cup of boiled broccoli gives you 5.1 grams of fiber
Sweet corn (cooked) - 1 cup of cooked sweet corn gives you 4.2 grams of fiber
Potato with skin (baked) - 1 medium potato baked with the skin gives you 2.9 grams of fiber
Lentils (cooked) - 1/2 cup cooked lentils gives you 6.6 grams of fiber
Navy beans (cooked) - 1/2 cup cooked navy beans gives you 9.5 grams of fiber

Other foods

Bran Flakes - ¾ of a cup gives you 5.3 grams of fiber

Oatmeal (cooked) - 1 cup gives you 4.0 grams of fiber
Black Beans (cooked) - 1 cup of black beans gives you 15.0 grams of fiber
Almonds - 1 ounce of almonds gives you 3.5 grams of fiber

Remember these three tips to help you increase your fiber intake:

1. Add fruit and vegetables as quick, easy snacks you can grab on the go.  Increasing fruits and vegetables can easily increase your fiber intake.

2.  When adding fiber to your diet, add it gradually over time to prevent bloating and gas associated with fast increases in fiber.   

3. When eat starches look for foods that are whole-grain and contain higher amounts of fiber so that it controls the release of insulin. 

NEXT: An Easy Way To Increase Dietary Fiber In Your Meal Planning >>

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