Fiber is part of plant-based foods that the body cannot digest or break down in fruits, vegetables, or grains. There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and forms a gel, which can slow down the passage of food. It is found in dried beans, oats, barley, banana, potatoes, soft parts of apples and pears, Brussel sprouts, broccoli, and turnips.
Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water. It holds on to water which adds bulk to the stool thus helping regulate bowel movements and prevent constipation. It is found in whole wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts, carrots, grapes, berries, cauliflower, green beans, and potatoes with skin.
The current daily dietary guidelines for Americans recommend for adults up to age 50 are as follows: men should aim for 30 – 38 grams of fiber and women 21 – 25 grams. For individuals older than 50, men should have 30 grams of fiber daily, and women should have 21 grams.
Fiber has many health benefits such as lowering cholesterol, lowering risk of cardiovascular disease such as stroke and heart disease, helping regulate blood sugar levels, helping you feel fuller longer, preventing intestinal cancer, fueling healthy gut bacteria, and relieving constipation.
The best way to add it into your diet is slowly and naturally through food. You want to give your gut a chance to get used to the increase of fiber. Plan about 2 – 3 weeks to reach your daily goals. Try spreading out your fiber throughout the day. Too much at once can cause cramping, nausea, gas, bloating, or constipation. When adding it to your diet make sure to drink at least 8 cups of water daily to prevent constipation.
Here are some examples of foods naturally high in fiber:
- 1 cup of raspberries has 8 grams
- 1 medium pear has 5.5 grams
- 1 medium apple has 4.5 grams
- 1 medium banana has 3 grams
- 1 cup of strawberries has 3 grams
- 1 cup of boiled broccoli has 5 grams
- 1 medium baked potato with skin has 4 grams
- 1 cup of cooked whole wheat spaghetti has 6 grams
- 1 cup of cooked instant oatmeal has 5 grams
- 1 cup of cooked quinoa has 5 grams
- 1 cup cooked brown rice has 3.5 grams
- 1 slice of whole wheat bread has 2 grams
- 1 cup of canned black beans has 10 grams
- 1 ounce of chia seeds has 10 grams
- 1 ounce of almonds has 3.5 grams
About Shima: Shima graduated from the University of Arkansas with a BS in Microbiology in 1997 and worked at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences with the Infectious Disease Department on clinical trials for over 4 years. She then pursued a career change and graduated with her Doctorate degree from St. Louis College of Pharmacy in 2007. During her years enrolled in pharmacy school she worked part-time at St. Louis University, where she helped design a laboratory protocol for the BCG Vaccine Study, which received full funding in 2011.
Shima joined Sinks and Medley Pharmacy in September of 2014 as a pharmacist. She continually strives to focus on improving outcomes and raising the quality of life for patients with all types of medical ailments and conditions.