So, lets talk about the dreaded F word. You know the word I am talking about, where when said, a moment of embarrassment flushes over oneâ€™s self. Yes , that five letter wordâ€¦F I B E R! Fiber, to put it simply, is the roughage from the food we eat, which keeps our insides moving. When reading labels, you may see two types of fiber: Soluble and Insoluble. Insoluble fiber attracts water in your digestive system and helps increase the bulk of your stool while softening it and shortening its transit time through the intestinal tract. Soluble fiber is fermented in you body, yielding end products with significant health effects.
Few people seem to truly know the immense benefits of fiber. After all, it is fiber that keeps us moving along and feeling comfortable, along with removing toxins from your body. Fiber is known to increase cardiovascular health, aide in releasing cholesterol from your body, and help in weight management. Fiber also helps in relieving hemorrhoids and keeping such diseases as diverticulitis (infections in small, bulging pouches (diverticula) in your digestive tract), at bay.
The average female needs 25 â€“ 30 grams of fiber per DAY, while the average male needs 30 â€“ 35 grams per day. While this is what we are suppose to be getting, most Americans only get about 1/3 of the recommended daily intake of fiber grams. I was a part of this statistic. Recently, I decided to monitor the fiber in my diet, and I noticed I was only getting about 10-15 grams a day. After making that realization, I made it a rule to have at least 4 grams of fiber with every meal, and for my snacks to have at least 3 grams of fiber. Also, I preferred to get my fiber through food rather than supplements. I realized that if I get my fiber from food, I increase my chances of getting extra nutrients from food, as opposed to a pill.
When increasing your fiber intake, you should start this off slowly by adding 5 extra grams a day. If you try to increase your fiber to 25 grams in one day, youâ€™ll most likely wind up with stomach cramps and bloating â€“ as I did for about a week. I must also say, fiber goes very well when paired up with water. If you arenâ€™t drinking enough water to help that roughage move through you, you increase your chances of getting constipated. Although this seems like a lot of fiber to get in your diet, it really isnâ€™t hard to do. Great sources of fiber are definitely fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Here is a sample for a typical day for me:
Quaker Lower Sugar Oatmeal: 3 grams of fiber
Asian pear or Apple: 3 grams of fiber
Low Fat Yogurt: 0 grams of fiber
Whole Wheat Pasta with Sauteed Zucchini (tossed in pesto sauce): 7 grams
Carrots and celery with dip: 3 grams or
Sweet potato: 3 grams
Small piece of chicken or fish: 0 grams
Channa Masala with a small Whole Wheat Roti: 7 grams
Salad: 3 grams
Total Fiber: 26 grams
So, what were the benefits that I noticed when I increased my fiber intake? My fiber intake helped me to lose an extra three pounds â€“ probably because I was also eating healthier to get my RDI of fiber. I also became more â€˜regularâ€™ with my bathroom routine, which is something most of us are not. I also had the pleasure of making myself vary the foods that I eat; therefore I knew I was getting the added nutrients of vitamins and minerals. In general, I just felt healthier. I knew I was ridding my body of toxins on a regular basis and I was increasing my cardiovascular health!
Although I tried this out as an experiment, I’m sure I’ll be sticking to it because of the overall benefits. If you would like to try it, start slowly! As I mentioned before, start with only an extra 5 grams of fiber a day. One meal that I love to cook often and helps me with my fiber intake is Channa (chickpeas) Masala (per cup, chickpeas can give you at least 5 grams of fiber). Not only is this meal fiber packed, but it is also low in fat and calories. Here is a great recipe for Channa Masala that I love to use in my fiber healthy diet:
This is a four serving recipe
Two 14oz cans of Chickpeas, drained
One medium tomato, diced
One medium onion thinly sliced
Two tablespoons of cumin seeds
Three tablespoons of tamarind paste
One half tablespoon of salt
Two tablespoons of vegetable oil
One tablespoon of of garam masala
Three tablespoons of tomato puree
Two dried chillies
Chili powder, as needed
1/2 tablespoon of turmeric
Two teaspoons of coriander powder
Two cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 inch of ginger, chopped
1/2 cup of fresh chopped cilantro
1. Add the oil to a hot saucepan
2. Saute the onions on medium heat, until translucent
3. Add the cumin seeds and saute for another five minutes
4. Add the garlic and ginger and saute for another minute
5. Add the salt, dry chillies, turmeric, coriander powder and saute for 3-5 minutes
6. Add the diced tomatoes and saute for another minute
7. Add the tomato puree and tamarind paste
8. Stir in the chickpeas
9. Add enough water to just cover the chickpeas
10. Allow this to come to a boil, then reduce the heat and allow sauce to thicken
11. Once sauce has thickened to desired consistency, stir in the cilantro, then take off of heat.
Allow this to slightly cool. Serve with freshly sliced onions on top. Eat with warm/toasted whole wheat pita.
Enjoy!! â€” Kanwal Ullah