Every day, adults should be getting a total of 25 grams of dietary fiber. It can be challenging to figure out if you're reaching the goal, but one tell-tale sign that you are not getting the recommended amount is constipation.
Fiber helps food move through your digestive system, hence helping prevent or relieve constipation. Aside from keeping your toilet breaks brief, according to Mayo Clinic, a high-fiber diet also lowers cholesterol levels, helps control blood sugar levels, and keeps your weight in check as fiber keeps you fuller for longer and tend to have fewer calories.
Fiber-rich food includes vegetables and fruits, whole grains, beans, peas and other legumes like monggo, and nuts and seeds. If you’re looking to increase your fiber intake, here are easy tips:
1. Have a veggie side dish with every meal Be a good example to the kids and eat your veggies! This shouldn’t be too difficult as, lucky for us Filipinos, we can choose from a variety of delicious gulay side-dishes. From adobong kangkong, chopsuey and ginisang monggo to just-boil-it options like okra, there are a lot of quick and easy recipes you can prepare (Yummy.ph has loads of recipes to pick from). If you’re a working mom, this may even be easier with vegetable side-dishes always available at the carienderia.
2. Eat better cereal and bread We eat lots of grains at breakfast which makes it an easy meal to inject more fiber into — you just have to be a little smarter on what breakfast foods to buy on your weekly grocery run. In place of white bread loaf, reach for whole wheat. Did you know Pan de Manila also has whole wheat pandesal? If you and the kids like to have cereal in the morning, check the side of the box if a serving contains at least 5 grams of fiber, according to nutrition experts.
Corn is a whole grain. So, it follows that popcorn is as well which is why it’s very high in fiber. “If your goal is to increase your fiber intake, then popcorn may be the best snack you can eat,” said nutrition researcher and writer for HealthLineKris Gunnars. “Air-popped popcorn is very high in fiber, calorie for calorie.” Try to resist adding butter, however, because this will increase your calorie intake significantly, he added.
4. Have a small container of nuts and dried fruits on your desk
If you usually look for munchies by mid-afternoon (and who doesn’t?), have a small container of nuts and dried fruits on your desk that’s within reach. You’re more likely to choose these high-fiber options than walking all the way to the nearest convenience store.
Because white rice is a staple in every Filipino meal, no doubt, this will take a little getting used to. But consider it not just for the fiber. “Brown rice has a big advantage over white rice when it comes to nutrient content,” said registered dietician Kayla McDonellfor HealthLine. “Brown rice is a whole grain. That means it contains all parts of the grain — including the fibrous bran, the nutritious germ, and the carb-rich endosperm.” Remember, brown rice needs to soak in water before it’s cooked so it turns out softer and cooks faster.
Additional reminders: Drink lots of liquids along with your high-fiber food options as fiber works best when it absorbs water. Don’t go overboard as well. Advised Mayo Clinic, “Increase fiber in your diet gradually over a period of a few weeks. This allows the natural bacteria in your digestive system to adjust to the change.”