Fiber Makes Everything Better

Expert’s Name: Lisa Enslow

Fiber is an essential part of any healthy diet, but it’s particularly important for women in perimenopause or menopause. Fiber rich foods can help with weight loss or maintenance and also assist in the removal of excess estrogen and cholesterol from our bodies. Fiber has also been found to reduce the risk of colon cancer, heart disease and diabetes. If you focus on fiber intake when looking at your diet is an easy way to make sure that you’re eating well without being overwhelmed by counting calories, carbs or sugar grams. Current guidelines for fiber intake range from a low of 25 grams per day to a high of 50 grams per day. The average person consumes only 15 grams of fiber per day, meaning most of us should be increasing our consumption of fiber. Here are some tips on learning where fiber can be found and how to transition to higher levels of fiber in your diet.

Where to Find Fiber

Fiber is either soluble (dissolves in water) or insoluble (not dissolvable in water) and we need both types. In general, soluble fiber is found in fruits and vegetables, nuts and beans and insoluble fiber is found in whole grains. Some fruits and vegetables contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. Here are a few foods with their approximate number of fiber grams to get you oriented:

  • 1 apple – 4 grams
  • 1 banana – 4 grams
  • Cup of avocado slices – 4 grams
  • 1/2 cup of berries – 2 grams
  • 1 cup of cooked chickpeas/garbanzo beans – 12 grams
  • 1 cup of oatmeal – 4 grams

Many whole grain breads are now available with 4 grams of fiber per slice. It’s important to real labels when shopping for breakfast cereals and breads in order to get the most fiber possible in these foods. Fiber is listed on every nutrition label, which is very helpful!

Tips for Increasing your Fiber Intake

If your current diet doesn’t include much fiber, it makes sense to add more fiber into your diet slowly or you may have stomach cramps, diarrhea and gas. Step up your fiber intake a little at a time to have an easier transition and ensure that you’ll want to continue this healthy habit. You also should drink a lot of water to aid in the digestion of fiber and to prevent constipation.

An easy and nutritious way to get more fiber into your day is to use ground flaxseed. Flaxseed is high in health promoting antioxidants, which are helpful in balancing hormones. They are also high in b vitamins and omega 3 fatty acids, which are linked to reducing inflammation in our bodies. Flaxseed is best used by our bodies when they are ground, so either buy them whole and grind them in a clean coffee grinder or buy them pre-ground and keep them refrigerated once you’ve opened them. 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed contain 4 grams of fiber, and can easily be sprinkled on your morning oatmeal or cereal, or on yogurt or in a smoothie. This superfood is tasty and is very easily incorporated into your day. You can find flaxseed in a health food store or at Whole Foods, and many mainstream supermarkets are now carrying flaxseed due to the overwhelming news about its health benefits.

Focus on fiber when planning your day’s food, and you’ll be benefiting your health in a number of ways!

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