At HealthifyMe, it’s Fiber and Protein Week. While we’ve already written about how to increase your protein intake through snacks, fiber is equally important for achieving weight-loss.

What is fiber?

Fiber is the element in plants (fruits, vegetables and whole grains) that, unlike most other foods, is not absorbed or digested. The fact that fiber is mostly left intact is a good thing as it aids digestion as well prevents constipation and sluggishness. Other health benefits include reducing the risk of heart disease, lowering cholesterol, blood pressure, glucose levels and inflammation. Most importantly, it helps with weight loss because it creates a fullness within your intestines that helps you to eat less.

Two kinds of fiber

Plant foods provide two types of fiber — soluble (which increases the feeling of fullness) and insoluble (which helps digestion). Peas, beans, oats and fruits are sources of soluble fiber while whole grains and vegetables provide the majority of insoluble fiber. Some foods provide both.

Here’s a look at five easy ways you can up your daily intake of fiber:

  • Choose whole grain over refined carbs

Whole grains are a natural source of dietary fiber. So skip the white bread, and choose whole wheat, barley, oats, rye, brown rice, millet (ragi), oatmeal and bulgur (lapsi).

  • Start your day with fiber

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so starting it with whole-wheattoast, oats upma/idli or ragi porridge is a good way to fuel up.

  • Snack on fiber-rich foods

Whole grain crackers, ragi biscuits, mixed nuts like dried fig or apricots and fresh fruits like apples, prunes, pears and oranges are good choices.

  • Boost your beans

Peas, beans and lentils are a great source of fiber, so steam and add them to salads, prepare a desi-style curry or puree them as dips to eat with vegetables.

  • Drink plenty of water

Fiber pulls water into the intestines, so if you’re not adequately hydrated, fiber can actually aggravate rather than alleviate constipation. Drink at least eight glasses of water a day.

 

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Written by Sumita Thomas

Sumita Thomas

For Sumita Thomas, good nutrition advice is less about what NOT to eat and all about HOW to eat. Armed with a master’s degree in clinical nutrition and dietetics from IGNOU, Sumita has worked with multi-specialty clinics and corporate clients, planning calorie-specific menus for their cafeterias. She’s also a certified diabetes educator, has worked in cardiac nutrition and is even a TUV-certified internal auditor for food safety management systems. Maybe that’s why she ensures her advice is always scientifically sound, which makes her a perfect fit for us at HealthifyMe. Of the belief that a healthy lifestyle can be achieved with the combination of a healthy mind, body and diet, Sumita recommends setting realistic goals – one health target a day – and gradually incorporating healthy ingredients to your daily diet. Does she practice what she preaches? For sure, and ensures all those around her do too. So get set, because that now includes you!

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