How To Eat More Fiber At Every Meal To Lose Weight And Get Regular
These high-fiber meal and snack ideas will help you meet your health goals.
A 2016 study found people who reported higher fiber intake from eating whole grains, fruits, and vegetables had an almost 80% greater likelihood of living a long and healthy life over a 10-year follow-up period. That is, they were less likely to suffer from high blood pressure, diabetes, dementia, depression, and functional disability. It could be that these people made better food choices overall or were more physically active, but it’s definitely worth eating more foods with fiber.
What is fiber?
Found in beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, fiber is the stuff our bodies don’t digest—which is part of what makes it so beneficial. While some fiber is changed by intestinal bacteria into products that are absorbed, most of it travels all the way through your digestive system, basically grabbing and pushing other things through. Unfortunately, many of us fall short on fiber, and because low intake is associated with a range of health concerns, it is considered a nutrient of public health concern.
Fiber is a superhero with powerful benefits. Foods with more fiber help you get regular and bring healthy dividends in the vitamins and minerals they contain. Here are some of the ways fiber can boost your health:
- Fiber helps you feel full longer, which helps with weight control. Bye-bye, snack attack.
- Fiber helps fight heart disease by carrying cholesterol compounds out of the body and reducing cholesterol production.
- Fiber helps slow digestion, which keeps blood sugar stable.
- Fiber helps your gut health. Researchers at the University of Nebraska found that eating fiber-packed whole grains, such as barley, brown rice, or especially a mix of the two, altered the gut bacteria to reduce inflammation.
- Fiber acts like a broom, promoting regularity and reducing constipation. It can also help prevent hemorrhoids.
How much fiber do you need?
To know where you’re going, you need to know your goal. Fiber recommendations vary by age and gender. Fiber requirements decrease with age because calorie requirements go down as we age. And women generally need fewer calories than men so general guidelines are 14 grams fiber per 1,000 calories. (Here are 5 signs your body wants you to eat more fiber.)
Use this chart to check your personal fiber needs:
- Women 19 to 30 years old = 28 grams per day
- Women 31 to 50 years old = 25 grams per day
- Women 51 and older = 22 grams per day
- Men 19 to 30 years old = 34 grams per day
- Men 31 to 50 years old = 31 grams per day
- Men 51 and older = 28 grams per day
The winning strategy is to have fiber-rich foods on hand. When they’re in the kitchen or fridge, they become meals and snacks. Make a couple high-fiber recipes each week to help you meet your goal. As you add more fiber, do it gradually to let your digestive tract adjust.
By Judy Barbe, RD writing in Prevention Magazine
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