Food Friday: Delicious Dietary Fiber 

We have all heard of the health benefits of fiber. You would be surprised by just how much fiber can do for you. But to get the benefits of fiber, you will have to learn a little about what it is and how it works. 

Fiber is a complex carbohydrate from plants. We are unable to digest it. But before you write it off as empty filler, consider how and works. Remember too, that our systems evolved to process our foods in the presence of lots of fiber. 

Fiber comes in two kinds, soluble and insoluble fiber. As the names suggest, soluble fiber mixes with or absorbs water, and insoluble fiber just passes through the system unaltered. 

What good could this possibly do? 

Soluble fiber

Soluble fiber softens the stool and helps it pass smoothly.  In this way it prevents constipation and all the complications from that. It binds cholesterol helps more it be eliminated. In this way, soluble fiber is heart healthy.

Soluble fiber buffers blood sugar spikes and may help control diabetes. And yes, it makes you feel full so you eat less. 

Good sources of soluble fiber are oatmeal, nuts, beans, apples and blueberries. 

Insoluble fiber 

Insoluble fiber is what your parent used to call roughage. It makes you feel full and helps discourage overeating. It bulks up the stool and protects against both diarrhea and constipation. 

Good sources of insoluble fiber are seeds, whole wheat, brown rice and even popcorn. 

According to the Institute of Medicine, Americans only get 15 grams of fiber per day in their diet. Men should get 38 grams and women should get 25 grams. Perhaps our lack of fiber has contributed to our many digestive complaints and the obesity epidemic.

These portions of fiber seem like a lot. However, if you eat the recommended numbers of servings of fruits vegetables and whole grains in a day, you most likely have it covered.

We have a long way to go, but thankfully high fiber foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains are readily available and fun to eat.