How fiber can help with weight loss? First and foremost, fiber helps you feel full without consuming a lot of unwanted calories. High fiber foods tend to be low in fat, too, helping to keep your weight in check.
There are two types of fiber; soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber dissolves in water. Insoluble fiber does not. To some degree these differences determine how each fiber functions in the body and benefits your health. Soluble fibers attract water and form a gel, which slows down digestion. Soluble fiber delays the emptying of your stomach and makes you feel full, which helps control weight. Slower stomach emptying may also affect blood sugar levels and have a beneficial effect on insulin sensitivity, which may help control diabetes. Soluble fibers can also help lower LDL (“bad”) blood cholesterol by interfering with the absorption of dietary cholesterol. Good sources of soluble fiber are oats, oat bran, oatmeal, apples, citrus fruits, strawberries, dried beans, barley, rye flour, potatoes, raw cabbage, and pasta.
How fiber can help with digestive issues? We often make jokes about digestion and too much or too little fiber. The funny thing is, your fiber intake does have a direct impact on digestive health. Insoluble fibers are considered gut-healthy fiber because they have a laxative effect and add bulk to the diet, helping prevent constipation. These fibers do not dissolve in water, so they pass through the gastrointestinal tract relatively intact, and speed up the passage of food and waste through your gut. It is the type of fiber most strongly linked to cancer protection. Good sources of insoluble fiber are wheat bran, whole wheat products, cereals made from bran or shredded wheat, crunchy vegetables, barley, grains, whole wheat pasta, and rye flour.
It is best to choose fiber-rich foods over fiber supplements in order to get the full range of cancer-fighting phytochemicals (“phyto” means plant so phytochemicals are simply plant-compounds) that fruits, vegetables, legumes, and grains contain.
What are some foods that are high in fiber? Answers: fruits (apples, pears, raspberries, avocado), veggies (kale, peas, squash, sweet potatoes, carrots), beans, flax and chia seeds, quinoa, oats, almonds. (note: foods listed are examples of the highest fiber rich foods in each category).
Are high fiber breads, bars, and cereals a good way to get more fiber? Not necessarily, because most of these food are highly processed and contain added sugars and/or hydrogenated oils. Calorie for calorie a whole food like an avocado has more fiber per calorie than a piece of bread. Not only that, but an avocado has numerous other nutritiously redeeming qualities that breads and cereals do not. Think about it this way…most breads and cereals are fortified with added nutrition, they are fortified because on their own, they are not nutritionally balanced.
What are some sneaky ways to incorporate more fiber into your diet? Add chia or ground flax seeds to your smoothie or oatmeal, top your eggs with 1⁄2 an avocado, add lentils to your salad, add psyllium husk to baked goods