We Hear This Almost Every Day! …
But Do You Really Know What Types There Are? And Why You Should Be Eating Them?
You’re walking more, great! You started off losing weight, partly because you became more active and probably started switching out some of those fatty snacks you were eating throughout the day. And since your hearing all the time about eating more nutritious foods, more dark green leafy vegetables, and root crops as well, and adding them to your diet you’re on the right track to eating healthy. But it seems like every time you see a commercial or pick up a health magazine you see articles or consumer plugs about eating more fiber. So, I have a question for you.
Do you even know what “Fiber” is??
Fiber is a component of some carbohydrate-containing foods that cannot be digested or absorbed by our intestinal tracts. In other words, we don’t get energy from fiber. However, even though it doesn’t provide energy, fiber is an important part of anyone’s diet that is looking to get that balance of carbs, vs proteins and what is needed for your body to process both and take away the say, byproducts of ingesting those needed food groups. Fiber helps to keep the intestinal tract healthy and promotes digestion. It also helps lower cholesterol (especially “bad” cholesterol), while it promotes regular bowel movements that are necessary for our bodies to function correctly. Fiber also slows the digestion of fiber-containing foods which increases satiety and releases glucose into the bloodstream more slowly, which prevents spikes in insulin.
To make things even more confusing, there are two types of fiber and some foods can contain both types.
Soluble Fiber: Can dissolve in water and adds thickness (think of the sticky gel that forms when you stir your oatmeal). This is more widely found in over the counter supplements that can be taken daily with water. Their claim to fame is to fill you up while keeping you regular, (If you know what I mean!)
It is this type of fiber, associated with lowering cholesterol that helps form firmer stools and leads to the slower passing of bowel movements as it cleans out your digestive track. Too much may result in an increase in gas, bloating, and constipation. So if you turn to commercial based products to get your daily dose of fiber, read those directions and make sure you understand them!
Insoluble Fiber: This type of fiber cannot be dissolved in water and thus remains bulky as you digest it. It helps produce a feeling of fullness (satiety) from a meal, so eating foods rich in insoluble fiber can actually help you to lose weight just by eating because you’re going to feel satisfied after you eat them and not go reaching for a “Clark” bar an hour after you’ve eaten your lunch. This type of fiber (insoluble) can help to relieve constipation, remember, keeping you regular? But be careful, eating too much of these fiber-rich foods can lead to diarrhea.
Now, to help you distinguish between the two types of fiber’s and what you can eat that can provide you with the type you're looking to increase in your diet, we’ve broken them out below to help make things a little easier for you.
Soluble Fiber: Bananas, Beans, Citrus fruits, Berries, Oatmeal, Barley, Carrots, Potatoes (with Skins)
Insoluble Fiber: Wheat bran/cereal/bread, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, Fruits and vegetables with skin, Barley, Rice (not white rice), Cabbage
Now, “All” fiber is beneficial, but when you eat foods that are made from whole grains, you also get the added bonus of ingesting natural vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals.
To help guide you along when you’re going up and down the aisles at your local food store, here are some terms you should know:
Whole-grain: This means that the product contains all 3 parts of the whole grain.
1) The Bran, which is the outermost layers and the source of most of the grain’s fiber and also some B vitamins.
2) The Germ, which is the most nutrient-rich part of the grain.
3) The Endosperm, which is the starchy part of the grain which contains carbohydrates and some protein.
Refined: This means that the bran and the germ layers have been stripped away, leaving just the endosperm. When grains are refined they have lost most of their fiber as well as many vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. READ the labels or ask questions from your local supplier if you have a good relationship with them to steer you right when it’s time to make a healthy purchase.
Enriched: This means that some of the nutrients that were stripped away during processing are added back. The main vitamins and minerals that are added back to grain products are thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), iron, and folic acid. However, enriched foods do not necessarily contain the same level of vitamins and minerals that naturally occurred in the grain.
Fortified: This means that nutrients are added to a food that is not naturally found in the food. An example of this is orange juice fortified with calcium.
In addition to fiber, whole grains offer an array of vitamins and minerals, which is why more emphasis is placed on eating naturally produced, (grown or harvested) on whole grains and try to limit our intake of refined grains.
So, for now, we hope we’ve provided a few guidelines and information on why fiber is good for you. And the two types that are available. Like anything else that involves helping your body be healthier, consult with your doctor or if you have a nutritionist, better yet! Ask them about possibly increasing the amount of fiber in your diet and what they recommend regarding the two types of fiber. Our guess will be
Our guess will be it's going to be a combination of both. But again, it’s your body and you may have to regulate just how much you eat based on how it affects your body and your lifestyle.
At PedometersUSA.com, we are ALL into being healthy, and besides keeping track of your steps each day by using a good reliable Pedometer like the Pedusa PE-771 Multi-Function Pedometer, to track your steps and just how much of the calories you burn by walking them. Nutrition plays a very big part of having a healthy lifestyle. So get your protein, the right carbs, and fats, but make sure you get the right amount of fiber so your body can function the way it was always meant to!
Well, I’m making a hot bowl of oatmeal, with a tablespoon of peanut butter and a handful of blueberries, how about YOU?