Good Sources Of Fiber That Improve Your Digestive Health
What Is Fiber?
Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that the body can’t digest. It cannot be broken down into sugar molecules like other carbohydrates, so it passes through the body undigested. Fiber helps you feel full and keeps your blood sugar in check, so it’s good for your digestive health.
According to the Harvard School of Public Health, children and adults need at least 25 to 35 grams of fiber daily. However, most Americans get only about 15 grams a day. Here is some more helpful information about fiber.
Types of Fiber
There are two types of fiber: soluble fiber, which dissolves in water, and insoluble fiber, which does not dissolve in water. Soluble fiber can help lower glucose levels and blood cholesterol. Foods high in soluble fiber include oatmeal, chia seeds, nuts, beans, lentils, apples, and blueberries.
Insoluble fiber helps food move through your digestive system, making bowel movements regular and easy. Foods high in insoluble fiber include whole wheat products, quinoa, brown rice, legumes, leafy greens, almonds, walnuts, seeds, pears, and apples.
How to Get More Fiber into Your Diet
Here are some tips for increasing your fiber intake in general and improving your digestive health:
- Eat whole fruits instead of drinking fruit juices
- Replace white rice, bread, and pasta with whole-grain versions of those foods
- Add fiber-boosting foods to recipes you already make: e.g., 1-2 tablespoons of almonds, ground flaxseeds, or chia seeds to cereal or oatmeal
- Snack on crunchy raw vegetables or a handful of almonds or walnuts
- Substitute beans or legumes for meat
Foods That Are High in Fiber
If you’re looking for more types of foods to boost your daily fiber intake, check out this list below:
Lentils and other beans can be thrown into many dishes as an extra fiber addition. Did you know there are 9 grams of fiber in a half-cup serving of shelled edamame? These steamed soybeans make a great snack. You can even buy bean flour, like garbanzo bean flour, to put into baked goods or batter vegetables or fish.
Just a cup of fresh blueberries contains almost 4 grams of fiber, and the fiber content is the same whether the berries are fresh OR frozen. Blackberries, strawberries, and raspberries also contain decent amounts of fiber.
There are 10 grams of fiber in just one cup of avocado, so add some guacamole to your tacos or some sliced avocado to your salad and reap the benefits.
There’s one gram of fiber in one cup of popcorn – when it’s plain or lightly salted, it’s an easy-to-make and deliciously filling snack.
Dried fruits like figs, prunes, and dates are such good sources of fiber that they have a reputation for helping those struggling with occasional constipation. They contain a sugar called sorbitol, which can help things along and lead to more comfortable bowel movements. But start only with a small serving, as having too many can have the opposite effect on your bowels!
Sweet potatoes, red potatoes, purple potatoes… all kinds of potatoes are good sources of fiber; in fact, one small potato with the skin on is about 3 grams of fiber.
Sunflower seeds and almonds each have more than 3 grams of fiber per serving. Try to find raw or dry-roasted nuts, as these won’t have additional calories from oil. Nuts make a great snack any time of the day, and you only need around a handful to fill up because they’re so rich in fiber.
A Final Word
We hope that these foods give you some inspiration for getting more fiber into your diet and making progress toward improving your digestive health! And to learn more about making positive changes to your diet and improving your overall well-being, visit the Healthy Lifestyles section on the Scripps Affiliated Medical Group’s website.