Extra! Extra! Eat More Soluble Fiber !

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Fiber has been discussed for years as a health lifestyle must have. Eating more fiber is an excellent way to establish a healthy weight and acts as a preventative measure for several chronic diseases.  As mentioned in Good Health is Money Save and Money Earned, one of the best ways to ensure financial security and stay off the cliff of financial ruin is to stay healthy. A critical step in achieving this healthy lifestyle goal and reap all the financial benefits of being healthy and strong is Fiber.  One may ask, when starting this fiber quest, “What is fiber? How much is recommended? and What foods contain this magical fiber you speak of?”

What is fiber?

To begin with, fiber is a carbohydrate that our bodies are unable to break down into sugar molecules and therefore are unable to be digested.  This lack of digestion helps in creating satiation, a feeling of fullness, after eating. This in turn reduces the amount of food one eats creating a calorie deficit which is needed for weight loss.  This also helps in preventing overeating which is essential for maintaining a healthy weight once a healthy weight has been achieved. Fiber also helps lower cholesterol levels, helps control blood sugar levels, reduces the risk of developing all cancers, aids in preventing cardiovascular disease, and also helps maintain and regulate your bowels. Yay for fiber!!  There are also two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble fibers. This article will discuss soluble fiber in more detail down below. A later article will be posted and will discuss insoluble fiber.

How much fiber is recommended?

Odds are, you aren’t getting enough fiber in your daily diet.  The average American takes in 15 grams of fiber a day. That’s about half of the daily recommended amount for both men and women according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020. Women age 19-30 were recommended to have an intake of 28 grams and men age 14-18 were recommended to have an intake of 30.8 grams.  The guidelines didn’t specify any older age groups among the genders. As shown, we definitely need to eat more fiber for a healthy lifestyle.

Soluble Fiber:

Soluble fiber slows the digestion of food by attracting water and creating a gel in the digestive system.  Soluble fiber attaches to cholesterol and exports the cholesterol out of the body, lowering the overall level of cholesterol which is good for cardiovascular health.  Since soluble fiber is not digested it does not contribute to sugar level spikes which helps in preventing Type 2 Diabetes and helps to maintain sugar levels in all diabetics, both Type 1 and Type 2. Soluble fiber also keeps you feeling full which is excellent for weight loss and maintenance.  It’s attraction to water also bulks up your stool as it passes through the body which keeps your bowels healthy.

Foods high in soluble fiber:

  • Oatmeal and oat bran
  • Whole grain cereals
  • Barley
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Apples
  • Citrus
  • Bananas
  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Vegetables

Suggestions for incorporating soluble fiber:

There are several ways to begin introducing soluble fibers into your diet. Substituting beans for meat in soups and chilis is one way to incorporate soluble fiber.  The change doesn’t need to be dramatic and can be a gradual introduction. For example instead of cutting the meat out of the soup initially, first start by substituting half of the meat with beans.  I personally will use half turkey and half black beans to my chili. I still get the meaty flavor but I have introduced soluble fiber which equals great flavor and great health benefits. Another substitute is chips with apple slices or even a non sliced apple.  They compliment most sandwiches and they are easy to transport. If the apple is sliced it will brown but if left whole the apple will stay fresh and crunchy throughout most situations life may throw at you. Substituting three days a week with a quick overnight oat recipe instead of the bacon and eggs will also help increase the soluble fiber intake and leave you feeling full for the day.

These simple changes can create large changes in the quality of life you are living and help in creating healthy habits which will last throughout your life.  An added benefit is that eating more soluble fiber doesn’t feel like you’re depriving yourself since it is filling and delicious. Work yourself into change slowly if that’s what works best for you.  A small change once a week is a first step in the right direction and can be the catalyst for further healthy changes.

The first step toward change is awareness, the second step is acceptance ~ Nathaniel Branden