By Ayesha Kauser
Benefits of Fiber has received considerable attention in the last several decades. Clinical studies have concluded dietary fiber to be inversely related to obesity, diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease. Fiber is the edible part of the plant that remains unaffected by the digestive enzymes, absorbs water along the way through the digestive tract easing bowel movements.
There are two types of fiber:
Soluble fibers slows digestion. It plays an important role in managing diabetes, by allowing the body to take longer time to absorb glucose from the food you eat. This prevents quick spikes in your blood sugar levels. It binds with fatty acids and helps eliminating them out of the body. This function helps in lowering bad cholesterol
Food sources include kidney beans, pinto beans, , broccoli, spinach, zucchini, apples, oranges, grapefruit, grapes, banana, prunes, oats, and whole grains.
Insoluble fiber eases bowel movements preventing constipation and controls acidity levels in the intestine
Food sources include green leafy vegetables, root vegetables and fruit skins, whole grains , wheat bran, oats bran, nuts and seeds,
How much do you need ?
Generally speaking, Adult men and women need 25-38 grams of fiber respectively. Unfortunately on an average, people consume only 14 grams of fiber per day. Here are some ideas to add high fiber food sources to your daily diet.
Tips to increase fiber intake
Have vegetable based meals.
Vegetables and other greens can easily be incorporated into indian cooking. Vegetables are low in calorie and carbs, while adding to your fiber intake. Incorporate different colours and variety of vegetables to pulao, idli, stuffed roti, upma/daliya, dals, make stir fries or even chutneys. Exploring other community’s dishes gives you a whole lot of variety for each vegetable.
Skip the juice and have a whole fruit
Fiber content from the fruit is lost during juicing. The resultant liquid contains most of the vitamins, minerals and plant chemicals but not fiber. So it is recommended to have a whole fruit to reap the benefits of healthy fiber.
Eat more beans and seeds
Beans varieties provide all the necessary fibre with a healthy dose of antioxidants. Use them not just in curries but to bulk up soups and salads. Make hummus for a dip and as a sandwich spread. Sundal, an extremely simple snack recipe, can be prepared using any variety of cooked beans. Seeds like sesame seeds, flax seeds can be sprinkled on subzis, dosa batter, added to doughs or spiced powders used for seasoning dishes or eating with rice.
Alternate grains/ add variety of millets
Millets make a great substitute for white rice which is stripped of fiber. Millets such foxtail, pearl, barnyard, little, finger millet are superior in nutritional profile. Soaked and ground millets can be used to prepare idlis, dosas, uthapams or added along with rice to make pulao or khichdi. These can be used in more recipes to make flatbreads / rotis and other flour based dishes.
Snack on high fiber foods:
Every time you snack, think of high fiber foods like baby carrots, cucumbers with the peel, sweet potato, roasted channa, makahana or lotus seed, soya bean salad, dry fruit nuts and seed mix.
Note: Drink a lot of water when you start incorporating fibre in your diet to avoiding bloating and any discomfort. Including these fibre rich foods in your diet will not only help keep bowels regular but also offer other health benefits too.