If you're constantly on the go, you may grab convenience foods that taste great and fill you up. Unfortunately, processed foods like fast food, fruit juice, and pre-packaged snacks lack an essential element of a healthy diet. Your body needs fiber to keep your digestive tract healthy and regular. Read on to learn why getting enough is crucial to your health and to find out which fiber-rich superfoods you should start adding to your diet.
Why Is Fiber So Important?
Fiber adds bulk to your stool, helping you stay regular and avoid constipation. Fiber-rich foods take longer for your digestive track to process, keeping you feeling satisfied longer after a meal. In the short term, a lack of it can negatively impact your blood glucose and cholesterol levels. In the long term, a low fiber diet can increase your chances of getting colon cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
What Are the Signs that I’m Not Eating Enough Fiber?
If you suffer from the following symptoms, you may need to add more fiber to your diet.
- Constipation and Bloating: This is the first sign that you’re not getting enough. It adds bulk to your digestive system, giving it something more sizable to pass through your system.
- Hunger after a Meal: Fiber keeps you feeling satisfied longer and keeps your blood glucose levels steady. If you begin snacking soon after a full meal, consider adding more to your diet.
- Weight Gain: Eating a lot of processed foods high in fat and sugar could be the culprit in unwanted weight gain. Fiber-rich foods will keep you feeling full longer and put the brakes on spiking glucose and insulin levels.
- High Cholesterol and Blood Pressure: Adding fiber to your diet may naturally reduce your high cholesterol levels and blood pressure numbers. Studies show it increases good cholesterol levels and reduces the bad while also helping lower your blood pressure.
Which Foods Are Rich in Fiber?
Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and beans are high in fiber. However, the following foods pack a large amount of fiber (at least five grams) into one suggested serving:
- Artichokes: Try frozen or canned for ease of preparation
- Lima beans: Add to soups or puree into a hummus dip
- Lentils: Simmer a bag of lentils and add them to tacos, salads, soups, or casseroles
- Black beans: Add to tacos or lightly mash them and sprinkle with cheese to make a tasty dip
- Raspberries: Eat fresh raspberries during peak summer months then buy frozen to add to smoothies
- Chickpeas: Puree and use in your favorite hummus recipe
- Barley: Substitute this food in any recipe that calls for rice
- Pears: Keep on hand for a fiber-rich snack
- Whole wheat pasta: Use in place of regular pasta
- Avocados: Mash and spread on toast, slice and add to salads or tacos, or make guacamole
Tips for Adding More to Your Diet
Most women require 25 to 30 grams daily but get much less. Gradually add these foods to your diet. If you’re not used to eating it and you add it too quickly, you’ll feel bloated and gassy. Try to get your fiber from food instead of from supplements like powder drinks. Not only will you get the full benefits, you’ll get valuable vitamins and minerals you need for your health. The physicians at Gotham Gastroenterology are highly trained in diagnosing and treating all disorders of the digestive tract. If you’re concerned about your digestive health, contact us today for a consultation with us at one of our convenient NYC locations today.