D is for Dietary Fiber

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Nutrition Tip Thursday

Randi Karlinsky MS, RDN, LDN, CHC, NASM-CPT

Dietary fiber is an indigestible complex carbohydrate, meaning the body is unable to digest or absorb it. Fiber is mostly known for its ability to prevent or relieve constipation. More importantly, fiber helps reduce the risk for life threatening diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. The average American consumes close to 16 grams of fiber daily, falling short of the FDA’s 25 grams/day recommendation.

Dietary fiber is broken down into two general categories: soluble and insoluble. Both are equally beneficial to the body and should be consumed daily. In fact, they often co-exist in many of our fiber-rich foods.

Soluble Fiber dissolves in water forming a gel-like substance as it moves through the digestive system. As a result, soluble fiber can help lower both glucose and blood cholesterol levels.

Food sources:

  • Oats

  • Peas

  • Beans

  • Apples

  • Citrus fruit

  • Carrots

  • Barley

  • Psyllium

Insoluble Fiber does not dissolve in water. This type of fiber increases stool bulk by encouraging the movement of contents through the digestive system. Insoluble fiber provides significant benefit to those struggling with constipation or irregular stools.

Food sources:

  • Whole wheat flour

  • Wheat bran

  • Nuts

  • Beans

  • Cauliflower

  • Green beans

  • Potatoes