A human body needs about 35 grams of fiber per day to keep its digestive tract running smoothly, which is vital for health. Foods that are high in fiber include whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
Most people do not get nearly enough of the daily recommendation for fiber, and this explains why so many of us suffer from poor digestion, headaches, low energy, chronic illness, and being overweight.
What Exactly Are Whole Grains?
Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that we eat approximately 6 ounces of grains per day and advocate making at least half of those servings come from whole grains because they are the necessary fiber that helps us in many ways. Eating whole grains daily can reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers.
Whole grains consist of the intact, ground, cracked, or flaked kernel, which includes the bran, the germ, and the innermost part of the kernel endosperm.
Examples of whole grains include whole wheat, oatmeal, whole-grain cornmeal, brown rice, whole-grain barley, whole rye, and buckwheat and spelt (Dinkel wheat or Hulled wheat).
Read labels carefully to look for the number of grams of fiber. Look for whole grains as the first ingredient when reading labels because ingredients are listed in the most abundant order.
A Daily Dose of Whole Grains
Eating at least three one-ounce equivalents of whole grains per day: Examples include:
- 1/2 cup cooked oatmeal, brown rice, or barley
- 1/2 cup cooked 100% whole-grain pasta
- 1 regular slice of 100% whole-grain bread
- 1 cup of whole-grain ready-to-eat cereal
There are two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble. These fibers not only help reduce cholesterol in our blood. Also, bulk up to sweep out our intestinal tract ensuring a regular digestive system. Complex carbohydrates are found in foods such as peas, beans, lentils, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, all of which are loaded with soluble and insoluble fiber.
Both simple and complex carbohydrates are turned to glucose (blood sugar) in the body and are used as energy, but complex carbs provide much-needed fiber.
High Fiber Foods Contain Vital Nutrients
A whole grain is mostly made up of 3 parts: The bran, the germ, and the endosperm.
The endosperm is the white center and is the only part of the grain used in highly refined cereals and flours. It makes up 83% of the kernel. Manufacturers remove the bran and germ when they make refined white bread flour. The endosperm has very small amounts of vitamins, not nearly what the bran and germ have. White bread is stripped of most of the nutrients and vitamins.
The bran is the outside layer of the grain, making up 14%, and is a rich source of many vitamins and minerals like magnesium, riboflavin, thiamin, phosphorus, niacin, iron, and zinc. Almost all of the fiber within the grain comes from the bran. The Aleurone layer is rich in proteins that build and repair body cells and phosphorus that helps build bone and nerve tissue.
The germ is only 3% the part of the grain, which sprouts when planted. It is a concentrated source of Thiamine (Vitamin B 1), essential for appetite, carbohydrate metabolism, growth, normal functioning of the nervous system. Also, other parts of the germ are Vitamin E, magnesium, riboflavin, thiamin, phosphorus, niacin, iron, and zinc. The germ also contains necessary fat and proteins.
Refined Carbohydrates Lack Important Nutrients
Refined carbohydrates are found in anything baked with white flour, such as most baked goods, white rice, and sugary cereals. They are made by milling whole grains and removing the bran and germ — the two parts of the grain that contains the most nutrients.
Refined carbs produce a state of inflammation in the body, causing increases in cytokines and other pro-inflammatory compounds, which makes arthritis worse. Limit foods made with refined grains to reduce arthritis pain and progression and instead switch to whole-grain options.
Fiber is What is Missing in Our Daily Diets
Look for foods that provide the highest amounts of fiber to help you in your daily meal planning. For example, red kidney beans contain 8.2 grams of fiber in just ½ cup. Other fiber counts in a one-half cup serving include almonds with 3.9 grams of fiber, blackberries 4.9 grams, cauliflower 5 grams, and broccoli with 3.3 grams.
Fruits that are high in fiber are apples, pears, and oranges, with almost 4 grams per serving. Brown rice has 1.7 grams of fiber per one half-cup serving. Look for healthier whole-grain cereals that have at least 3 grams of fiber per serving. By contrast, most bread on your grocer’s shelves contains only 1 gram of fiber.
Tips to Increase Fiber in Your Diet
- Eat more vegetables and salads with fruits, nuts, and seeds like flax seeds, pumpkin seeds
- Eat more fruit with skin that has been washed thoroughly
- Prefer to have whole wheat and whole grain products
- Choose breakfast cereals with more than 3 grams of fiber
- Sprinkle bran cereal and wheat germ on your favorite cereals
- Add oat and wheat bran to beans to soups, salads, stews, and casseroles
- Add vegetables to sandwiches such as onions, peppers, tomatoes
- Make fruit smoothies with different fruits and vegetables
- Grate zucchini, carrots, and finely chopped vegetable to pasta sauces
- Add whole wheat, oats, wheat germ, and flax meal when baking
To help you remember how to get more fiber in your daily diet, make a diet chart. Note down which fruits to eat for breakfast, which salads to have in lunch, and which lentils to have in dinner; this will give you an idea of how much fiber you are consuming throughout the day.
Foods like lentils and nuts will provide you with the right amount of fiber you need to keep your digestive tract running smoothly. It will also help to reduce your cholesterol level, balance your blood sugar and prevent chronic illness. Best of all, by eating a variety of fiber foods, you will have extra energy and feel great.