What is fiber?
Fiber is an essential part of a healthy diet. This nutrient has countless benefits, and one of the best ways to incorporate it into your day is through an easy high-fiber breakfast.
Fiber is indigestible material found in the structure of plant-based foods. Your body can’t break it down. Fiber has a positive effect on many of your body’s systems, including your heart and digestive system. There are two kinds of dietary fiber, soluble fiber and insoluble fiber.
Soluble fiber can be dissolved in liquid to create a gel substance that slows food down as it makes its way through the digestive tract. Soluble fiber is a part of many fruits, vegetables, and legumes, including:
- Dried beans and peas
- Citrus fruits
- Certain fruits and vegetables that have soft parts
Insoluble fiber is not dissolved in liquids, but it collects in your stool and can help cure you of constipation. Insoluble fiber is found in:
- Whole grains
- The peels or skin of certain fruits and vegetables
A healthy diet contains both kinds of fiber.
Why fiber is good for you
There are many benefits to eating fiber. Eating plenty of fiber helps speed up your intestines. Whole grains with insoluble fiber move quickly through your intestines and signal to your body that you’re full. Fiber also prevents extremes in your blood glucose levels that can leave you hungry soon after you eat. Both of these effects of fiber help you avoid overeating.
Fiber cleans your colon out, much like a scrub brush. Buildup and bacteria in your intestines are cleared by fiber. This nutrient also contributes to soft, regular bowel movements.
More fiber in your diet lowers your cholesterol and helps your body fight off heart disease and diabetes. The benefits don’t stop there. A high-fiber diet can also lower your chances of developing certain kinds of cancer, including colon cancer.
Easy high fiber breakfast foods
Adding fiber to your breakfast is a great way to start your day. Many of these common breakfast foods are high in fiber:
- Whole grain bread for toast
- Cereals made from whole grains, bran, or rolled oats
- Fruits and vegetables
- Oat bran or wheat germ sprinkled over cereal and yogurt
- Whole wheat pancakes, waffles, or muffins
- Whole grain bagels or English muffins
Be sure to always check the label before buying breakfast items. Make sure they have enough grams of fiber to reach your daily needs.
If you can, eat the peel of your fruits and vegetables for an extra boost of fiber. If you like dried fruits, keep them on hand to add to breakfast foods like muffins, pancakes, or yogurt. Fresh fruit is a great addition to cereals, oatmeal, and other common breakfast foods. Try slicing a banana, peach, or other in-season fruit on top!
When you buy bread, look at the label to find a loaf with the highest amount of fiber per slice. Look for a cereal that will give you at least five grams of fiber per serving. Buy fresh fruit instead of canned, and never buy fruit juice as a substitute. It doesn’t have the same fiber content as fresh fruit.
How much fiber do you need?
For someone between the ages of 3-18, add five to their age. The total is how many grams of fiber they need daily. For example, a ten-year-old needs 15 grams each day. Anyone over 18 years old should shoot for 20-30 grams of fiber every day.
If you don’t currently take in a lot of fiber each day, add it to your diet slowly instead of doing so all at once. Drink plenty of water to avoid constipation, gas, and bloating from too much fiber and not enough hydration. As you increase your fiber intake, your body will get used to larger amounts. You should have no problem with the daily recommended amount.
Start your day with fiber
Eating a high-fiber breakfast doesn’t have to be complicated! In many cases, it’s simply a matter of substituting or adding to the breakfast foods you already love.
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UCSF Benioff Children's Hospitals: "Why Fiber Is So Good for You."
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