If your initial reaction is to roll your eyes, I understand. For most of us the word ‘Fiber’ conjures images of raisin bran muffins, bran flakes, and possibly a tall glass of Metamucil. Mmmmm….exciting. Fear not. I’m here to tell you that fiber no longer has to be boring. Or brown! Pardon the pun.
In many cases, the ever-important fruits and vegetables sadly get pushed aside. Your slice of toasted whole grain bread may have SOME fiber, but it doesn’t come close to what our colourful friends contain. Surprised? I thought you might be. Not only do they have higher amounts of fiber, they are also packed full of vitamins, minerals, water and electrolytes. Talk about getting more for your money! To top it off, fruits and vegetables possess both necessary types of fiber; soluble and insoluble. Two things that are important for every age!
Why do you need two? Imagine if you will that your colon is a train station, and your digested foods are the passengers. Soluble fiber is like a sponge that brings everyone together so that they leave when they are supposed to. It also helps to absorb the toxins that need to be eliminated from the body. Insoluble fiber acts like the cleaning crew that scrub down the station. If there are any passengers trying to hide, they get pushed onto the train. Now that’s what I call team work! Let’s get some good examples of both.
- Chia seeds – No, they are not a fruit or vegetable. But these babies put your glass of Benefibre/Metamucil to shame. Unlike those powdery mixes, chia seeds actually contain protein and essential fatty acids your body needs. When soaked, the seeds plump up and resemble a tapioca pudding. It IS important to soak them though. As they will absorb a lot of liquid, eating them dry may cause them to remove water from your system. The seeds are best kept in the fridge, and keeping a small, sealable container of already soaked ones on hand means they’ll be ready when you need them! (helpful hint: most baking recipes can be made vegan by replacing an egg with a ‘chia egg’. It’s 1 tablespoon of ground chia seeds soaked in 3 tablespoons of water. Voila!)
- Carrots, celery, root vegetables, cucumbers, peppers, leaf lettuces, fresh herbs, berries, peaches, citrus fruits, bananas, and apples. The fun thing about apples is that they contain pectin. Because pectin acts as a binder, it helps to pull toxins out of your system as well as creating…well…compact stool. Next time things are moving a little too quickly, skip the apple sauce and go right to the source. You’ll get the pectin as well as the electrolytes that are lost during cooking.
- Celery, skins of peppers and tomatoes, corn, broccoli, whole grains, grape skins, root vegetable skins, cabbage, kale, nuts and seeds, and the husks of flax seeds.
It’s important to get a combination of both types of fiber because they work together to create a healthier intestinal tract. This is just as important for children as it is for adults. When in doubt, incorporating a variety of raw fruits and vegetables into your diet is fantastic. Add in some whole grains, a handful of nuts and seeds here and there, and you’ve nailed it!
Need more incentive? Soluble fiber has been linked to an increase in weight loss as well as reducing LDL blood cholesterol levels. Not enough? Insoluble fiber increases the transit time of waste which helps to reduce the toxic load on the body. BAM. It’s a win / win.
Emily Webb is a Newmarket based practitioner who has always had a passion for food and helping others. She decided to combine her two loves by returning to school and becoming a RHN (Registered Holistic Nutritionist). With a whole food philosophy as her focus, she encourages those that she teaches through humour and lightness. Her goal is to take the fear out of food and make health, vitality, and well-being more accessible to all.
For more information, please go to www.emilywebbwellness.com