There are few things in this world that can make you feel as sexy and fit as the F-word. Of course, I'm speaking about that big thing you can really sink your teeth into... FIBER.
When talking about the indigestible portion of food from plants, I get excited -- that is excited about losing weight. Over the last couple of years, fiber has grown in popularity for good reason -- nutritionally speaking, it's a powerhouse. You can't seem to flip through a magazine without fiber making an appearance, plastered on the front of a new product, but all that fame may have you a bit confused about what fiber is, where it comes from, and why it's so important.
As I said above, fiber is a substance found in plants. Dietary fiber, which is the type of fiber you can eat, is only found in fruits, vegetables, and grains. A low-fiber diet is not ideal because a diet high in fiber has been linked with a decrease in the risk of obesity, heart disease and diabetes. But there are three types of fiber and if you're getting your fiber via pill or powder, you still may not be getting each type.
Soluble fiber. This type of fiber attracts water and turns to gel in your small intestine. The fiber gel prevents bile from being absorbed back into your body, which results in the liver using cholesterol, already in your body, to make more, thus reducing your blood cholesterol level. Soluble fiber is found in high quantities in oat bran, barley, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, and peas. It is also found in psyllium, a common fiber supplement.
Insoluble fiber. Found in foods such as wheat bran and whole grains, it adds bulk to the stool and appears to help food pass more quickly through the stomach and intestines. Insoluble fiber also helps keep your intestine fit by acting as a force to push against. This can help prevent constipation.
Resistant starch. This one you may not have heard of! This fiber is starch and starch degradation products that escape from digestion in the small intestine of healthy individuals. Studies have shown that it may shut down some of the hunger hormones, which the other two types do not seem to do. The richest food sources for resistant starch are green bananas, plantains, cooked-and-cooled potatoes, cooked-and-cooled-rice, and cooked-and-cooled legumes.
So don't be afraid of the F-word! Be passionate and persistent about the three types of fiber in order to be at your best.