Achieving Health with Fiber

It’s not anything new, we know we should have it as part of our daily eating pattern, but why? Fiber can keep our digestion on track, contribute to heart health, help us achieve a healthy weight, and prevent and manage many chronic diseases. Fiber can be found in fruits, vegetables, beans, peas, lentils, nuts, and whole grains. The amount of fiber we need each day varies in age and gender. Men up to age 50 need about 38 grams per day and that amount lowers to 30 after. Women up to age 50 need about 25 grams daily and that amount lowers to 21 grams per day. Planning meals out and varying your food groups in meals and snacks, not just your dinner plate can help you achieve this goal. When you build your plate fill half with fruits and vegetables and for your grains, make at least half your grains, whole grains. When looking at a nutrition facts label, a food that is high in fiber is 5 grams of fiber or more per serving. A good source is considered 2.5-4.9 grams of fiber per serving.

Think about fiber through all of your meals and snacks as another step forward in achieving health. Start your day out with a fiber-rich cereal, whole grain English muffin, or toast, or top your yogurt with fruit and nuts. If you are looking for ways to add vegetables to your day, try with veggies in your scrambled eggs, cucumber, or carrot slices with hummus for a snack, add extra veggies to your soup, or try a side salad. Keep frozen vegetables on hand and add them to any meals where you can. When you can eat the edible skin of fruits and vegetables as it contains more fiber, give it a try. You will not only increase your fiber intake but will decrease food waste! If you are looking for a fiber-rich snack besides fruits and veggies try a handful of unsalted nuts or plain popcorn. If you are used to a little flavor on your popcorn, mix it up with different dried herbs and spices other than salt.

How is fiber connected to a healthy weight and chronic diseases? Foods that are high in fiber are usually lower in calories and will give you a feeling of fullness. This in turn helps you manage your portion sizes and your overall calorie intake. Making healthy choices for your plate is part of the equation of a healthy weight, the other is balancing it with regular physical activity. To prevent and better manage Type 2 diabetes, fiber can slow digestion and help regulate blood glucose levels. This can prevent additional insulin needed or increases in medications prescribed. Fiber adds bulk to the waste in your body and helps it move through easier and prevents constipation and other discomforts that may occur if not consumed. It keeps your heart healthy by improving your cholesterol and decreasing the waxy buildup in the walls of your arteries. This means your blood can flow at a proper rate and keep your blood pressure under control.

Hydration is key as part of a healthy lifestyle, but with an increase in fiber intake, you want to make sure you increase your water intake. As fiber travels through your body it holds in water, do your part and drink water when you wake up, before and during meals, around physical activity, and throughout the day. Keep a reusable water bottle handy and extra to refill when you are away from home so there are no excuses not to hydrate. Gradually increasing your fiber intake will give your body time to adjust and help prevent any discomforts such as gas, cramps, and bloating. Fiber and other healthy eating changes will help you achieve health, one day at a time.


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Posted: February 8, 2023

Category: Health & Nutrition
Tags: Fiber, Heart Health, Nutrition

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