Photo courtesy of Eat Your Medicine

Why Should I Care?

Although fiber is not a macronutrient, it is absolutely vital for weight loss, controlling diabetes, averting heart disease, treating constipation, lowering cholesterol, preventing diverticulitis, gallstones, appendicitis, hemorrhoids, varicose veins, polyps, and colon cancer.

How Much Fiber do I Need?

Men need 38 grams of fiber per day and women need 25 grams of fiber per day. Looking at my food diary on March 7, 2012 I see I consumed 32 grams of fiber. Here is what I ate that day:

Meal 1: Medium banana with 1.5 tblsp raw almond butter (5 grams of fiber)

Meal 2: Medium baked sweet potato with two fried eggs ( 2 grams of fiber)

Meal 3: Cauliflower “rice” with carrots, onions, olive oil, and 4 ounces of London Broil (17 grams of fiber)

Meal 4: Smoked herring, medium apple, and an almond coconut KIND bar. (7 grams of fiber)

Photo courtesy of Eat Your Medicine

What Foods are Fiber Rich?

Dietary fiber comes in all sorts of fruits, vegetables and grains, and it comes in two types—soluble and insoluble fiber.

Insoluble fiber is the stuff most people think of when they hear the term “roughage,” it’s those parts of plant matter that our digestive system can’t really break down, so they pass right through. Insoluble fiber is abundant in unrefined cereals, whole-grain flours, fruits and vegetables. It is nonexistent in white flour. Fruits rich in insoluble fiber: berries, prunes, bananas, cherries, plums, apples and pears. Vegetables containing soluble fiber are beets, okra, carrots, and dried beans. Oatmeal, carob, seaweed, and legumes (dried beans, peas, and lentils) are other good sources.

Photo courtesy of Eat Your Medicine

Soluble fiber dissolves in water, forming a thick, jelly like substance. Soluble fiber lasts longer in the stomach than insoluble fiber, so it helps to keep your hunger at bay longer. Soluble fiber also changes very little as it passes through the body, acting mainly as a sponge and absorbing many times its weight in water. Fruits that contain soluble fiber include apples, pears, oranges, grapefruit and figs.Vegetables containing insoluble fiber include cauliflower, onions, broccoli, mushrooms, spinach, potatoes, carrots and beans.

Photo courtesy of Eat Your Medicine

What Does Fiber Do?

Fiber is nature’s broom sweeping your intestines clean. Fiber that has absorbed water adds bulk to the stool, which generally causes it to move through the intestines faster, helping to prevent constipation and diverticulitis, the painful intestinal condition caused by the inflammation of small pouches that form in weak bowel walls.

Not only does fiber speed up the journey of food through the intestines because of the bulk it adds, but people on high-fiber diets also have stronger colon muscles. These muscles push the food along more rapidly than do the weak colon muscles of people who eat processed or “soft” foods like a lot of cheese.


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