When discussing constipation you also often hear fiber mentioned as well. This is because fiber is responsible for bulking up or softening stools to make easier to eliminate. Therefore for a healthy balance in bowel health, it is important to eat high fiber foods such as bran cereals, whole fresh fruits, raw vegetables and whole grain breads.
Does this sound overwhelming? Well, the good news is that it might just be a matter of tweaking some of your food choices. For instance, Cheerios cereal has 2.0 grams of fiber per serving, however Wheat Bran has 10 grams of fiber per serving. And oatmeal has 2.5 grams of fiber per serving, whereas FiberOne has 13 grams of fiber per serving. Looking at a serving of fruit, nectarines have 2.2 grams of fiber and grapes have 1.12 grams, however black berries have 7.2 grams and raspberries have 7.5 grams of fiber.
Other quick and relatively easy changes to make include how one prepares the food. For instance, leaving the skins on most fruits increases fiber consumption and eating vegetables raw retains the fiber, rather than reducing the fiber content during the cooking process. Using whole grain flour when baking and eating the edible seeds of foods are other recommended ways to improve fiber consumption.
There are some key things to keep in mind when adding fiber to your diet including:
- Add the fiber gradually so your body can adjust to larger amounts. This prevents gas and bloating.
- It is necessary to drink 6-8 cups of water a day. This keeps the fiber moving through the digestive system.
There are also several questions to ask yourself that may indicate you are eating a diet too low in fiber. These questions are:
- Am I eating a significant amount of processed foods?
- Am I drinking enough water?
- Am I eating 5-7 servings of fruits and vegetable a day?
- Am I eating a significant amount of high fat foods?
- Am I eating too many sugary foods?
- Am I consuming fruits and vegetables as juice or in fresh form?
Adjusting your eating habits based on the above questions, can help you increase your daily fiber content and decrease constipation.
Taking things a step further, it is important to eat both soluble and insoluble fibers. Soluble fibers dissolve in water and help lower cholesterol and blood glucose levels. Insoluble fibers do the majority of the bulking of stools and movement through the digestive pattern. However, both are necessary for an overall healthy body.
Examples of soluble fiber includes:
- citrus fruits
Examples of insoluble fiber includes:
- whole-wheat flour
- wheat bran
Good luck as you tweak your diet and work towards a “fiber full” lifestyle!
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