We can't digest it, and it passes through our system without adding any nutritional benefits, but we still need it! We're talking fiber. Fiber is one of the most effective weight loss weapons out there. And chances are, you’re probably not getting enough.
Fiber is the part of plant-based foods that our bodies can't digest. There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble.
Soluble fiber dissolves in water and binds with fatty acids. When this happens, it slows the digestion process so blood sugars are released more slowly into the body. This type of fiber helps to lower LDL, the (bad) cholesterol, and regulate blood sugar levels. Some examples include: oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits and carrots.
Insoluble fiber does not break down in our bodies. Insoluble fiber helps control the pH levels in our intestines and helps to move waste through our digestive system, which helps to prevent constipation and keep us regular. Some examples include: whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts and many vegetables.
Fiber makes us feel full sooner and stays in our stomach longer than other substances we eat, slowing down our rate of digestion and keeping us feeling full longer. For example, due to its greater fiber content, a single serving of whole grain bread can be more filling than two servings of white bread. Fiber also moves fat through our digestive system faster so that less of it is absorbed. Getting our fiber from natural foods is ideal, but if needed, supplements can be used. Just be careful, read the ingredients and don’t go overboard.
Some good examples of fiber-rich foods include:
• wild rice, brown rice
• whole wheat
• whole oats
• whole rye
• red cabbage
• baked potato with skin
Adding more fiber to your diet will likely help you lose weight and improve your health, but do it gradually. Rapid increases in consumption of fiber may result in gas or diarrhea.
And be sure to drink plenty of fluids when adding fiber to your diet. While fiber is normally helpful to your digestive system, without adequate fluids it can cause constipation instead of helping to eliminate it.
Author: Sue Ridgeway