So, what are these fibers that we keep hearing about in commercials, and reading about in magazines, and where exactly do we find them? What I can safely say is that they seem to have important benefits for the body and they should be included in everyone’s diet, on a daily basis. In fact, by looking at the nutritional labels of commercial products and recipes, I found out that the grams of the dietary fibers are written in detail as well… So, what is only certain is that they are there to give us some kind of information!
Fibers also belong to the category of carbs, they are found in vegetables, and they aren’t broken down by the human body and the small intestine. They are divided into two categories: the soluble and insoluble (and this has to do with their water solubility). The recommended quantities for a healthy adult range from 20 to 35 g daily, and for a child the quantity is equal to the age +5g daily. Due to the significant changes in everyone’s eating habits – several times these quantities are hard to be met, even though we can find fibers in so many foods like fruits, vegetables, oats, cereal, pasta, whole-wheat bread, and of course, legumes. As it seems though, from research that has been conducted, people have the tendency to not consume these foods regularly, and on the contrary, to consume those foods that have plenty of saturated fats, sugar, and salt.
Which are, though, the benefits of fibers to health and for what reason do we want them in our diet? Research suggests that…
- They are necessary for a good bowel movement and they reinforce the process of digestion. One of the main problems that people who do not consume enough fibers have, is that of constipation.
- A diet rich in fibers, is also rich in many other necessary trace elements for the body since fibers can be found in those foods that we call “good”, like the ones I mentioned above. Thus, trying to top up your fiber consumption, it automatically means that you top up your vitamin and mineral levels by eating healthily.
- A diet rich in fibers brings more saturation since fibers are broken down more slowly and so, they slow down the process of digestion. That means, they make us feel full for longer, while they do not increase the blood sugar levels abruptly.
- They help in preserving a balanced weight and in fighting obesity.
- A diet rich in fibers helps in fighting diseases such as cardiovascular, type 2 diabetes, and high blood cholesterol levels. It also seems to have some positive effects in decreasing the possibility of developing colon cancer.
Does it take more to convince you to change your diet and add fibers into your lives? I don’t think so…
And now, 4 important tips that it’s good for you to know, in order to get as many fibers as you can from your diet.
- Eat your vegetables raw or steam-cooked, and your fruits with their peel (after washing them well of course). In that way, you will get as many fibers, vitamins, and minerals as you can from your food.
- Start your day with a breakfast rich in fibers, by adding oats or wholegrain cereals into your diet. In that way, you will start your day feeling full.
- Choose pasta and bread that are whole-wheat and whole grain rice along with your main meals (actually your lunch). Avoid meals that are high in saturated fats, salt, sugar, and especially processed sugar.
- When you crave something sweet, prefer desserts that include whole-wheat flour, oats, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and generally the so-called “good” foods. Due to the fibers that they include, they will bring you saturation and you will probably eat a lot less than you would if you ate a regular dessert.
Now, let’s go see some recipes that have plenty of fibers! You’ll make them and you’ll fill both your appetite and… your stomach!
This article was written in collaboration with Kitchen Lab’s Sports Nutritionist Anna Maria Volanaki, MSc, BDA, SENr.