Why should I eat fiber?

I’m glad you asked! Fiber is a superhero for our digestive system. Fiber’s superpowers include: lowering risk of diabetes and heart disease, regulating blood sugar levels, lowering cholesterol levels, maintaining weight loss, promoting healthy gut bacteria, promoting regular bowel movements, lowering risk of colorectal cancer and strengthening the immune system.

So why should you eat fiber? Because eating a high-fiber diet makes for a healthy heart and a happy digestive system. Fiber helps keep your digestion regular, while also reducing your risk for heart disease. The superhero we all need!

Where does fiber get its superpowers?

Fiber’s claim to superhero status is this: Unlike other carbs, fiber does not break down into sugar as it moves through your digestive system. Because it does not break down into sugar, fiber makes you feel full longer.

Fiber has the power to lower cholesterol and lower blood sugar levels. Eating a high-fiber diet promotes healthy blood sugar levels and protects against heart disease. Fibrous diets can even lower your risk for diabetes and can decrease your chance of having a stroke! Fiber protects your heart like Batman protects Gotham City – fiber is the superhero that your body needs.

Fiber is not afraid to do the dirty work. As fiber passes through your digestive system, it pushes other food and liquid through your intestines and out as waste. By eating fiber, you are giving your body the superpowers it needs to move food waste through your intestines and colon.

If I want to eat more fiber, do I need to start eating cardboard boxes?

No! Please do not eat cardboard; that is not advisable. There are plenty of fun and tasty ways to add more fiber to your diet! Here are some great places to start, if you want to up your fiber intake:

• Avocados: See what the millennials are raving about with the avocado toast.

• Salads: Bonus points if you add chickpeas or kidney beans.

• Hummus: Great on sandwiches, as a dip or topping.

• Whole fruits: Not juice!

• Nuts and seeds.

• Whole vegetables: Leave on the peels for an instant fiber boost!

• Leafy green vegetables.

• Whole grains: In bread, pasta, oatmeal or cereal.

• Brown rice.

If you want your digestive system to be fully superpowered, women should be eating 25 grams and men should be eating 38 grams of fiber per day. Most Americans fall short of this goal and only consume about 16 grams of fiber a day. Do your body a favor and give it the superhero it deserves: fiber! 

Aaron Stonelake is the nutritionist for the Kern County Public Health Services Department. For more on health resources and programs, go to www.kernpublichealth.com.

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