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Feelin' Good with Fiber!
by Jennifer Ordway

Want an easy way to feel more full, "erase" calories, and maybe even lose some weight? Add fiber to your diet! The importance of fiber is underestimated, let's find the facts!

There are two types of fiber- soluble and insoluble. Both are indigestible in the body until they reach the large intestine. Once they make it there, insoluble fiber will stay intact and eventually pass through your body (can you say regularity?) and soluble fiber will be fermented in the large intestine into gases and acids. Because the fiber is so indigestible, some of it passes through your body without being absorbed = free calories! It'll also help clean out your bowels and get rid of junk that can sit around in your intestines for months! (Picture a flatter lower tummy.)

Fiber pulls water along with it and helps you feel full longer. It takes longer to digest (since it can't digest until it reaches the large intestine if at all) so you end up feeling fuller longer! Fiber can also grab onto cholesterol and stop it from being absorbed in the body, therefore lowering blood cholesterol levels. Another health benefit is possible prevention of some cancers and, as we said before, regular bowel movements. Wowee!

Add fiber gradually or you will experience stomach pains! The goal is to take in 20-35 grams per day. If you go from 10grams/day to 25grams/day, I can guarantee you will NOT be a happy camper. Ideally, you should gradually add a few high fiber foods each week to your diet until you meet or excede the recommended amount. Eventually, your body will become very efficient with fiber and you'll start to see and feel the benefits.

Try eating fruit (natural sweets!) for dessert instead of your sugary, fatty indulgence. You'll be surprised how satisfying it can be. To add some fiber to your meet dishes, simply substitute beans for meat or if that's going a bit too far add beans in with your meat.

*My* favorite sources of fiber are:

  • Whole grains (whole wheat bread/bagels/rolls)
  • Popcorn (try "lite" varieties)
  • Beans (pretty much any kind will do!)
  • Apples (don't forget the skin!)
  • Blueberries
  • Oranges
  • Carrots
  • Peas
  • Related Links:

  • Sources of Dietary Fiber
  • A High Fiber Diet
  • Harvard on Fiber
  • How to Poop at Work
  • Feces Health Quiz