Why was the horse happy?
Because he was in a stable environment. Ha! It seemed appropriate to share Ellen’s Classic Joke Wednesday with you today. I love Ellen! It always makes me laugh out loud…even when I’m by myself. Anyways…on to fiber…because that was a logical transition, right?
Fiber is something that you are most likely familiar with and that is because it is an essential nutrient for our bodies. In general, women should aim to consume 25 grams of fiber per day, while men should aim for 38 grams. Unfortunately, many Americans fall short of this recommended intake value. Here I hope you will learn why fiber is important and where you can find it in common (and tasty!) foods.
Fiber naturally occurs in many foods and provides many health benefits. Fiber is essential for maintaing the integrity of the GI tract and overall health. Fiber also has the following roles:
- Helps prevent and alleviate constipation by making bowel movements easier to pass
- Prevention of diverticular disease, which are sac like herniations along the colon wall that can lead to serious infections, GI bleeding, or perforation (tears in the colon wall–not good!)
- Manages body weight by providing a feeling of fullness after meals
- Can help lower cholesterol
- Manages blood glucose levels
Now that you know what fiber is beneficial for, where is fiber naturally found?
The skin or peels of fruits and vegetables is were you can find the greatest amount of natural fiber. But it can also be found in beans, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. The more processed a food becomes, then typically the lower the fiber content–hence our average American low-fiber diet. So stick with whole fruits like a whole medium apple with the skin that contains 4.4 grams of fiber vs. 1/2 cup of applesauce with 1.4 grams of fiber. Other natural sources with high fiber include:
- 1 large pear with skin = 7 grams
- 1 cup fresh raspberries = 8 grams
- 1/2 medium avocado = 3.5 grams
- 1 ounce almonds = 3.5 grams
- 1/2 cup cooked black beans = 7.5 grams
One important note about increasing your fiber intake is that you want to do it gradually with plenty of fluid. If you consume more than your usual intake of fiber and not enough fluid, you may experience nausea or constipation. So, be sure to increase your water intake while working up to your 25 grams (women) or 38 grams (men).