Fiber is something we are well aware of. We know we need to have more of it but how we can eat all those fiber rich foods without blowing up? Oh, my! Dietary fiber is very important (see email 137 “Fiber Check” at www.askthefoodcoach.com) but now we have another dilemma – there are two kinds of fiber – soluble and insoluble. Why do we care about that?
Fiber is the part of plants that we cannot digest but that is good! Mixed with water, fiber forms bulk and keeps us feeling full (I like feeling full), helps us get rid of unwanted toxins and other unwanted compounds in our intestines (I’m very happy about that). Our goal is 45 – 50 grams of fiber a day… that may sound like a lot but eating a diet based on plants will go a long way to help us get to that number. The good news is that the breakdown of soluble and insoluble fiber doesn’t matter… which is great!
Insoluble fiber absorbs water in the colon and does not ferment (soluble fiber does). This fiber does not change but simply moves through the colon and aids in digestion and helps to prevent constipation. Insoluble fiber won’t dissolve in water like soluble fiber would; it just moves things along in our system – and that’s good. We can get insoluble fiber from whole grains (like brown rice), bran, barley, green beans and nuts and seeds.
As we know, we do not get calories from fiber. It is indigestible and is found only in plant foods. Even if you choose to add a little meat to some your meals (fish, chicken, red meat) you can still get plenty of fiber from the plants. Realize that you get no fiber from animal foods; that means there is nothing to move things along and you will have to depend on the plants that you eat. Some of the best sources of fiber are beans followed by vegetables, potatoes with skin followed by cooked oatmeal. Some of these foods offer soluble fiber which we will look at next time. Until then…