We’ve all experienced the occasional period when stubborn bowels make it tough to go to the bathroom. But the distress normally passes and you’re on your way! However, if you suffer from chronic constipation, there are a host of conditions including hemorrhoids, diverticulitis, and even colon cancer that can come with the territory. Fortunately, increasing your intake of healthy fiber in your diet can help you stay regular and ward off digestive diseases—as well as high cholesterol, blood clots that can lead to heart attacks and stroke, and Type 2 diabetes!
What kind?—There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and forms a gel-like substance in the body. It’s responsible for helping to keep cholesterol and glucose levels stable. Great sources of soluble fiber include apples, oats, beans, barley, and psyllium. Constipation and irregular stools can be alleviated with the addition of insoluble fiber. Insoluble fiber doesn’t dissolve in water and helps move matter through your digestive system by increasing stool bulk. Some foods rich in insoluble fiber are wheat bran, nuts, and many vegetables.
How frequent?—If your diet hasn’t included lots of high-fiber foods, you’ll want to introduce them gradually over a couple of weeks. That way, you can avoid the discomfort of gas, bloating, or cramping and allow the flora of your digestive system to adjust to the new addition. When adding fiber to your diet, you also need to add water! Much like a garbage disposal, without water, fiber can’t do its job of keeping material moving and flushing you out.
How much?— The National Institutes of Health recommends that adults consume 35 grams of fiber per day but 40-50 grams is even better!
Opt for getting your fiber from eating whole foods in lieu of supplements like Metamucil, and focus on incorporating the following into your diet for the best boost:
- freshly ground flaxseeds
- brussel sprouts
- sweet potatoes
- pumpkin seeds
Make an avocado a day your dietary mantra and you’ll be off to a great start! And in no time, your gut will be thanking you for making friends with fiber.
Author’s content partially used under license, © 2012 Sprouted Content, LLC
500 High Fiber Recipes: Fight Diabetes, High Cholesterol, High Blood Pressure, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome with Delicious Meals That Fill You Up and Help You Shed Pounds! by Dick Logue