We’ve all heard about the numerous benefits of increasing your fiber intake. Eating higher amounts of fiber not only helps you to lose weight (fiber fills you up without adding calories, and makes you feel fuller, longer), but it also improves your overall health by helping your digestion and elimination. Perhaps even better is the fact that studies demonstrate increased fiber intake can lower blood lipid and cholesterol levels (see supportive clinical studies here and here!).
But adding fiber to your diet sounds so boring! Isn’t this something that only elderly people need to worry about?
Absolutely not. Everyone should add more fiber to a well-balanced diet. In this article I would like to share with you 5 simple ways to increase your fiber intake.
1. Eat more fruits. This is probably the easiest recommendation to follow on this entire list. You’d probably enjoy eating a variety of fruits on a daily basis, even though you have to be reminded to do so. If you cut back on those sweets (like those cookies and apple pie after dinner), it will be a lot easier to squeeze some healthy fruits into your diet. You can also use fruits as healthy snacks in between meals when you’re at work or on the road. Eat a variety of high fiber fruits like apples, berries, bananas, figs, oranges and pears — all of which will contribute to your fiber intake and add a variety of nutrients as well.
2. Eat more vegetables. Most of us don’t eat vegetables simply for pleasure and enjoyment, but rather because of how nutritious they are and how good they are for us. So you might as well maximize the amount of fiber and nutrients you get by concentrating on raw or lightly cooked vegetables. Some good choices include; artichokes, peas, broccoli, sweet corn, and Brussels sprouts.
3. Adding ground flaxseed to your meals is an excellent way to increase your fiber. These “magical” seeds will not only add more fiber, but they also contain healthy oils that will soften your stool and contribute to your overall health. All it takes is adding a teaspoon (or preferably a tablespoon) of ground flaxseed to your favorite brand of yogurt or oatmeal a couple times each day.
4. Choose whole-grain or whole wheat. This applies to bread (depending on which brand you choose, your white bread may contain little to no fiber! Whenever you eat your toast in the morning or a turkey sandwich for lunch, just use bread with some fiber instead) and other things; like pasta. A cup of whole wheat spaghetti can offer up as much as 6 grams of fiber per serving.
5. Choose a high fiber pysillium-based breakfast cereal. And by “high fiber” I mean 10 grams of more per serving. My favorite is Kellog’s All-Bran Buds which offer up a whopping 13 grams of fiber per 1/3 cup serving. And here’s a tip; mix up a couple of teaspoons in a protein shake or smoothie – they taste great and add a wnderful texture.
6. Eat more nuts, seeds, and legumes. Most peas and beans are great sources of fiber, as are almonds and sunflower seeds. Careful with the nuts though; high in fiber as they are, they’re also calorie dense. If you eat too many, you’ll derail your progress.
Hopefully you will use all of these tips each day, but even using a couple can greatly improve your health and the likelihood you will succeed on your diet!