Fiber is food material that cannot be digested by our intestinal enzymes — it passes through our digestive tract without being digested or absorbed. There are two major types of fiber: insoluble fiber and soluble fiber.
Insoluble Fiber – Found in whole grains, fruit and vegetable skin, and seeds and nuts. It is a stool bulking agent that absorbs water. This fiber promotes bowel movements and prevents constipation when consumed with sufficient amounts of water.
Soluble Fiber – Soluble fiber slows the absorption of sugars, carbohydrates, and fats. It binds cholesterol in the intestines and can lower cholesterol in some people.
You need both types of fiber for good health — and it’s easy to find them in fruits and vegetables. A diet low in fiber leads to bowel irregularity, and it can often lead to both cramping diarrhea and bloating constipation. Get the full scoop on fiber here.
Fiber Facts – Where to Find It
Good sources of dietary fiber include legumes, nuts, whole grains, bran products, fruits, and nonstarchy vegetables. Legumes, whole grains, and nuts are richer sources of fiber than fruits and vegetables. All plant-based foods contain mixtures of soluble and insoluble fiber. Oat products, wheat bran, and legumes are good sources of soluble fiber.
Start your day with whole grain cereal or oatmeal for breakfast and always substitute whole grains for refined grains; whole grains are also rich sources of insoluble fiber. Eating more fruits and vegetables is always a good idea, as are adding beans. Nuts always make for good snacks.