Fiber refers to parts of plant-based foods that cannot be digested or absorbed by the body. It’s associated with a multitude of health benefits including a lower risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. It’s considered a complex carbohydrate so it doesn’t make your blood sugar spike and it’s an essential nutrient, meaning you have to consume it in your diet because your body doesn’t produce it.
There are two types. Soluble fiber, which dissolves in water and transforms into a gel-like substance. This is digested by gut bacteria in the large intestine releasing a few calories. Insoluble fiber does not dissolve as it moves through the GI tract and since it’s not digested, it’s not a source of calories.
Let’s talk about the benefits of both. Soluble fiber decreases fat absorption which helps with weight management, lowers cholesterol, stabilizes blood sugar levels, feeds healthy gut bacteria, and helps with nutrient absorption. Insoluble fiber prevents intestinal blockages by speeding up the passage of food. Both leave you feeling satiated and fuller longer.
The best sources of soluble fiber are flax seeds, avocados, brussels sprouts, and black beans but you can pretty much find it in all fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. Insoluble fiber is found in whole grains like quinoa and barley, nuts like almonds and walnuts, vegetables, and the skin of fruits. One of the best sources of fiber comes from legumes, which is the group of food that contains peas, beans, and lentils. Ideally, we should be consuming at least 25 to 30 grams of fiber per day.
Comment below with questions about your fiber intake.