Few things seem to get as much praise in the nutritional world as fiber. Food high is fiber is considered a huge positive, and no one ever seems to be able to get enough of it. It just seems so odd as fiber is useful mostly for making things, how shall we say…regular. So in a vegetarian diet, are you getting enough fiber? Let’s take a look!
Good news to vegetarians and vegans alike: Your diets typically give you more than enough fiber to get the job done, whereas meat eaters tend to be lacking if they aren’t making sure to look into the appropriate nutrition. If you go about your day looking for protein replacements, such as nuts and beans, then you’ll find loads of fiber. And if you tend to nosh on fruit, congrats, more fiber!
Fiber is important to a daily diet for two reasons, or specifically due to two types of fiber. The first is soluble fiber, which means it can be dissolved in water and tends to be things like apples and beans. It’s a cool fiber as it slows digestion down enough to let nutrients be properly extracted and absorbed, meaning you get the greatest possible return for any meal. The second type of fiber is insoluble fiber, which means it cannot be dissolved in water. While this seems strange, it’s actually pretty important. These are things like flaxseeds and peanuts, or basically anything that you usually see again after eating it (“Hey I don’t remember eating that!”). The importance of fiber like this is to help everything continue down the digestive tract without trouble and adds weight to the collected waste. Hey, we’re talking fiber, so don’t get squeamish now!
Without fiber you’ll find yourself either constipated or far too loose, neither of which is very preferable to find oneself in. Either you need to move things along, or you need to slow things down. But beyond just that ending step, fiber assists in the early step of simply eating. Overeating can be a huge problem, but eating items with a high fiber content will help to make you feel full faster, or at least they will if you can slow down enough for your brain to get the signal. It’s simple science as heavy food makes you take notice quicker.
Those still looking for some simple fiber sources, you need look no further than almonds, apples, pears, peas, beans, seeds, nuts, corn, blueberries, blackberries, figs, apricots, kiwi, or even popcorn. Just a single cup of any of these things will help meet your fiber requirements for a while, whereas something like a celery stick will require 50 or more be eaten. I don’t know a single person who likes celery that much!
The downside to too much fiber is the obvious: If fiber makes you gotta go, then you’ll be going quite a bit. You’ll also become a bit gassier than you may prefer, so if you’re about to eat a meal where the fiber is going to greatly exceed what you’d imagine, time to prepare with either some Gas-X or a good book. Sometimes fiber is just worth it though as it can also help reduce the risk of type-II diabetes and other health concerns, it can lower cholesterol, help regular insulin levels, and even reduce blood pressure. Check your regular diet and be sure that you’re getting enough fiber in your diet every day! Your body (and your colon) will thank you!