Fiber is Essential to Overall Health

Fiber is Essential to Overall Health
Are you someone who works hard to maintain your healthy eating habits? Maybe you’ll eat a sugary cereal or some chips every once in a while, but do you usually like to make sure what you’re eating is not only tasty but good for your health? We understand and want to help ensure you’re able to identify and enjoy some of the healthiest foods, especially if you or someone in your family is living with paralysis. No matter what your body’s condition, however, fiber is always a good-for-you food.

Why Fiber is Good For You

According to WebMD, fiber - particularly insoluble fiber - can help people prevent constipation. It bulks up stools and keeps food moving through the digestive tract. But there are many other ways fiber helps your body other than digestion. Fiber helps maintain a healthy weight, stabilizes your blood sugar, lowers your cholesterol, and even helps you live longer! Fiber is the name for material in vegetables, fruits, and grains that our bodies can't fully digest. There are two terms used to describe fiber—soluble and insoluble—and both types are carbs that are found in plants.
  • Soluble fiber absorbs water and slows down digestion as it passes through your GI tract. Eventually, it turns into a gel-like substance that helps to protect your heart and improve your bowel movements. Soluble fiber is found in nuts, beans and legumes, and certain fruits like apples and blueberries.
  • Insoluble fiber doesn’t really break down in the intestines. It passes through the body mostly intact. As it does this, it speeds up digestion, minimizes constipation, and prevents you from experiencing hunger too quickly, which can help you lose weight. Insoluble fiber is in foods like seeds, grains, and the stringy parts or skins of fruits and vegetables.

How to Make Sure You Get Enough Fiber

Sometimes it’s hard to get enough fiber in your diet, especially if you’re not a big fan of legumes, grains, and nuts. Don’t lose hope, though, because we have listed some great options for sneaking fiber into your diet in ways that are healthy, tasty, and will make it easier for you to go with the flow!

Make Simple Food Substitutions

Sometimes, adding fiber to your meal is as simple as making some food substitutions.

Substitution: Whole Wheat Blueberry Pancakes or Waffles.

Substitute whole wheat flour in your favorite pancake or waffle batter, then toss in fresh or frozen blueberries. Both whole wheat flour and blueberries are high in fiber and are tasty ways to get your daily dose. For an added fiber bonus, top your pancakes or waffles with more blueberries for a warm and yummy breakfast everyone will love. If you are crunched for time on weekdays, consider this for a leisurely, Saturday breakfast. 234 calories and 5 grams of fiber.

Substitution: Veggie Scrambled Eggs, Whole Grain Toast, and Tomato Juice.

Scramble an egg and toss in a handful of spinach leaves and some veggies. Save money by using any leftover veggies from dinner last night! Substitute less healthy white bread with some whole-grain toast, English muffins, or bagels and serve everything with a glass of tomato juice (skip the high-sugar orange juice) for a fast and easy fiber-rich meal. 234 calories and 6 grams of fiber.

Foods & Recipes Rich in Fiber

If you’re looking for recipes that will spice up your amount of dietary fiber, we’ve got some of those for you too. Make sure to follow the techniques below to ensure you are searching for recipes with the biggest sources of fiber: legumes and vegetables.

Love the Legumes

Lentils and peas are related to beans and share their dietary profile: high in fiber and protein and low in fat. Lentils cook more quickly than most other legumes and are a favorite in soups and stews. Cooked chickpeas can be added whole to salads or blended to make hummus—either way, it’s good fiber!

Recipe: Fragrant Chickpea Stew

WebMD’s fragrant chickpea stew only takes about half an hour to make and is low-cholesterol, low-calorie, and high in fiber. It’s also gluten-free! This stew involves several special ingredients, such as cumin seeds, coriander seeds, and fresh cilantro, but trust us, it’s worth it once you taste how all of these spices, seeds, and herbs make the chickpeas zing with flavor.

Veggies Full of Fiber

High-fiber veggies include artichoke hearts, green peas, spinach, corn, broccoli, and potatoes. But all vegetables have some fiber, usually at least 1 to 2 grams per 1/2-cup serving. To boost your fiber intake, add vegetables to omelets, sandwiches, pasta, pizza, soup—anything where you could stand a little extra fiber in your meal.

Recipe: Sicilian-style Broccoli

WebMD’s Sicilian-style broccoli recipe offers a low-cal, low-cholesterol, low-sodium version of a fresh veggie side dish you’re sure to love. Using extra-virgin olive oil and water to steam the broccoli preserves all the nutrients, and you don’t have to add anything for flavor except capers, garlic, salt, and pepper. It’s a delicious combination of flavors!

Fiber Intake After Spinal Cord Injury

People with spinal cord injury (SCI) commonly experience problems with bowel function, which makes proper nutrition - including adequate amounts of dietary fiber - even more important. SCI slows down the digestive tract, and eating food high in fiber is a natural and helpful solution for people who struggle with digestion and constipation to ensure the intestines are kept active. As with any quality diet, nutrition after a spinal cord injury is all about balance. This means including all types of healthy food, including fiber. It’s also important to include protein and complex carbohydrates to keep that nutritional balance. It’s not only about what you add to your diet, either. Avoid foods that are high in empty calories and carry no nutritional value, as they increase the risk of weight gain and other systemic problems, like diabetes. Prioritizing a balance of nutrient-rich foods helps avoid these dietary complications, and the good news is healthy food also tastes great!

DocuSol® Can Help Keep Things Moving

Eating enough fiber, prioritizing overall nutrition, staying hydrated, and getting adequate sleep are all important to your digestive health, but sometimes we all need a little extra help. DocuSol® and DocuSol® Plus are available at most national retailers. Visit our website to learn more.