Find out how insoluble dietary fiber affects your body and why you need it.
The previous edition of An Apple a Day tackled the topic of soluble dietary fiber. This time, Jen discusses insoluble dietary fiber.
What is insoluble fiber? It helps to associate insoluble fiber with something you are already familiar with – Jen likens insoluble fiber to a broom. It benefits our bodies by creating bulk and keeping everything moving through the digestive system. This reduces constipation and helps prevent flare ups of certain gastrointestinal diseases. As an added benefit, fiber provides a feeling of fullness, which is helpful if you are trying to watch your weight.
Most plant-based foods contain both soluble and insoluble fiber, but certain foods are richer in one type or the other. The best sources for insoluble fiber are certain fruits and vegetables – like apple skins, corn, beans, carrots, and tomatoes. You’ll also find it in cereals and whole grains.
Fiber in the bran layer of whole grains. Don’t be fooled by the color of some grain foods. Just because a product is brown does not mean it is made with whole grains. The brown color can come from caramel. Some whole grain breads look white due to the use of an albino variety of wheat. When you are looking at a product, check for “whole grain” in the ingredients list. You can also look for the whole grain stamp on the box. This is a stamp designed by the whole grains council to let you know how many grams of whole grain per serving it contains, or if it is made of 100% whole grains. You can find great information recipes for whole grains at WholeGrainsCouncil.org.
Have you ever heard of flaxseed? It contains fiber too. Flaxseed must be ground for your body to properly use it. One tablespoon of ground flaxseed equals 2 grams of fiber. It doesn’t have a strong flavor, so it can be mixed into your yogurt, cereal, or baked goods. It also contains omega-3 essential fatty acids which helps lower your bad cholesterol, in turn helping to lower your risk of heart disease. Ground flaxseed is easy to find in the grocery store – usually right by the flours.
Remember: It is very important, that as you start increasing how much fiber you eat, to do it gradually. It is equally important that you also increase how much water you drink!
I hope that helps make fiber a little easier to understand. Build your health by starting with one change, and make it a habit.