Monday, August 2

The Dish on Fiber

There’s a whole lot of talk lately about fiber. Several times now, I’ll be preparing my lunch or a snack in the kitchen at work and someone will comment on the fiber in my food. I really haven’t put much thought into fiber previously since I mostly just make sure I’m getting enough veggies in my week. But fiber is all the rage right now.

To start, what is fiber? There are 2 types of fiber: soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. Insoluble fiber essentially greases your digestive tract (this is where that “regularity” comes from). Think of insoluble fiber like little scrub brushes that keep everything moving. Soluble fiber (meaning it dissolves in water) helps keep your cholesterol and blood sugar low.

It’s easy to find foods with both kinds of fiber. Wheat, nuts, and dark green leafy vegetables are all high in insoluble fiber. Oats, citrus fruits, carrots, peas and beans are high in soluble fiber.

In addition to fiber’s effect on your digestive tract and cholesterol, it has another benefit that seems to be the source for fiber’s popularity right now. Fiber takes longer for your body to digest (like protein) which, therefore, helps to reduce your hunger throughout the day.

If you’re having trouble with hunger mid-morning or mid-afternoon, try combining the powers of fiber and protein! Have a spinach and chicken salad for lunch, or a shredded wheat and cottage cheese for breakfast. Just make sure to not replace your protein with fiber. Fiber alone might help you fight hunger, but fiber is usually found in foods that are higher in carbohydrates. If you were just to have an orange for a snack, there are many more carbs than fiber and you’ll be hungry again in half an hour.

Be smart about how you get fiber in your diet, and fiber can be a small addition to make a big difference.

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