What is fiber?
Fiber is the element in plants (fruits, vegetables and whole grains) that, unlike most other foods, is not absorbed or digested. The fact that fiber is mostly left intact is a good thing as it aids digestion as well prevents constipation and sluggishness. Other health benefits include reducing the risk of heart disease, lowering cholesterol, blood pressure, glucose levels and inflammation. Most importantly, it helps with weight loss because it creates a fullness within your intestines that helps you to eat less.
Two kinds of fiber
Plant foods provide two types of fiber — soluble (which increases the feeling of fullness) and insoluble (which helps digestion). Peas, beans, oats and fruits are sources of soluble fiber while whole grains and vegetables provide the majority of insoluble fiber. Some foods provide both.
Here’s a look at five easy ways you can up your daily intake of fiber:
Choose whole grain over refined carbs
Whole grains are a natural source of dietary fiber. So skip the white bread, and choose whole wheat, barley, oats, rye, brown rice, millet (ragi), oatmeal and bulgur (lapsi).
Start your day with fiber
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so starting it with whole-wheattoast, oats upma/idli or ragi porridge is a good way to fuel up.
Snack on fiber-rich foods
Whole grain crackers, ragi biscuits, mixed nuts like dried fig or apricots and fresh fruits like apples, prunes, pears and oranges are good choices.
Boost your beans
Peas, beans and lentils are a great source of fiber, so steam and add them to salads, prepare a desi-style curry or puree them as dips to eat with vegetables.
Drink plenty of water
Fiber pulls water into the intestines, so if you’re not adequately hydrated, fiber can actually aggravate rather than alleviate constipation. Drink at least eight glasses of water a day.
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