Fiber is an important part of a healthful diet. Getting enough fiber can aid in lowering cholesterol and reducing risk of heart disease, and is important for maintaining a healthy gastrointestinal system. High fiber diets have also been linked to lower body weights.
Fiber is found only in plant-based foods. Fiber refers to the part of plant-based foods that cannot be digested or absorbed by the body. There are two categories of fiber: insoluble and soluble. Although different foods contain primarily one type of fiber or the other, most plant-based foods contain a mixture of both. It’s important to include a variety of fiber sources in the diet.
Insoluble fiber: These fibers absorb water as they go through the gastrointestinal tract, which increases stool bulk and promotes bowel regularity. Examples of insoluble fiber sources include vegetables and gluten-free whole grains.
Soluble fiber: These fibers dissolve in water to form a gel-like substance which is involved in lowering cholesterol levels. Legumes and fruits are examples of soluble fiber sources.
TIPS FOR ADDING FIBER
Add fiber slowly: Adding fiber too fast can cause increased bloating, gas and stomach pains. Add just one extra serving of a fiber-rich food per day for several days, then add another serving the same way until you reach your goal. Recommended daily fiber intake for adults: 25-35 grams.
Drink plenty of water: Without adequate fluids, you could become constipated or have hard stools. Drink at least six to eight glasses of water a day.
Exercise: Daily exercise – along with adequate fiber intake – helps the gastrointestinal tract to work better. A daily walk is all it takes.
Eat more fresh fruit and vegetables: Fresh fruits and vegetables are an easy way to add fiber to the diet. Another great way to add fiber is to include legumes (beans like kidney, garbanzo and limas) or peas, such as split peas or lentils. Try using the gluten-free flours below in your baked goods or use the seeds as a side dish to a meal.
Gluten-Free Fiber Sources
This article has been assessed and approved by a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist.