Need for consuming fiber in our diet is well recognized. The real cause of most of the diseases can be linked to inefficient digestive system. Drop in the consumption of natural traditional foods that are rich in fiber and increased intake of simple carbohydrates, meat and fat are key contributors in increase of conditions like diabetes, heart diseases and intestinal cancers. Fiber is essential for maintaining a healthy digestive system. Dietary fiber is mainly obtained from plant sources. It is found in fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, while grains, beans. There is no fiber in meat, dairy, and sugar. Refined foods like white bread, white rice, etc have most of their fiber removed.
Fiber comes in two varieties:
Insoluble fiber, which does not dissolve in water. This is found in whole grains, wheat cereals, and vegetables. This is helpful in keeping the digestive system healthy.
Soluble fiber, which dissolves in water. It is found in barley, oatmeal, beans, nuts, and fruits. It helps control blood glucose and cholesterol. It also helps in weight reduction.
How can I increase my fiber intake?
Foods to include in your diet
- Dry fruit like raisins, figs, dates etc.
- A bowl of freshly cut vegetables as salad including cucumber, carrots, tomatoes, radish etc.
- Whole fruits; fruits like apples which are high in pectin, soluble fiber.
- Green vegetables like cabbage, broccoli and greens in your daily menu
- Ground or whole flaxseeds can be used while cooking
- Include whole grain cereals like muesli, oats, dalia for breakfast
- Sprouts (fenugreek, green gram, chickpea)
- Roasted stuff like Chana, Soyabean
- Unsalted nuts like peanuts, almonds, walnut etc.
- Air popped popcorn is an amazing healthy snack. Every cup of popcorn contains 1.2 grams of fiber
- Fresh mint coriander chutneys
- Isabgol (psyllium husk)
- Eat whole fruits instead of drinking fruit juices
- Replace white rice, white bread, and pasta with brown rice and whole grain products
- Snack on raw vegetables, fruit or popcorn instead of chips, crackers or chocolate bars
- Substitute beans, peas or lentils for meat 2 to 3 times a week
- Include at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day
- Strive to make half your grains whole
- Don’t sieve flour before kneading
- Substitute oat flour and flax for white flour in pancake recipes for an additional 1-2 grams of fiber per serving
- Switch to whole-wheat flour when baking
- Make your own smoothies by blending whole fruits
It is advisable to increase your fiber intake gradually to give your system time to adjust to the dietary changes. As you increase your intake drink plenty of water. This will help the fiber pass through your digestive system more easily.
Eat Healthy, Stay Healthy!