Fiber is important in everyone’s diet; it's beneficial in reducing risk of heart disease, lowering cholesterol, and reducing risk of some cancers. But most people don't get enough; the recommended intake is at least 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men. Here are some things to know about fiber, especially when following a gluten-free diet.
Types of fiber
Undigestible fiber aids in bowel regularity. These fibers are not digested by the body and may be seen in the stool. An example of undigestible fiber is the skin on corn. This types of dietary fiber are also known as insoluble fiber.
Fermentable fibers can be digested by the body. The last stage of digesting these fibers happens in the large intestine where they go through a fermentation process. Fermentation can cause increased gas, bloating, and discomfort when you are not used to a lot of fiber in your diet. Legumes are an example of a fermentable fiber source. These fibers are also known as soluble fibers.
Tips for adding fiber to your diet
Add fiber slowly. Adding fiber too fast can cause increased bloating, gas, and stomach pains. Add one extra serving a day for several days, then add another serving the same way until you reach your goal.
Drink plenty of water. Without adequate fluids while adding fiber, you could become constipated or have hard stools. Drink at least six to eight glasses of water a day. Caffeine drinks can cause dehydration and should not be considered part of your daily fluid intake.
Exercise. Daily exercise helps the GI tract to work better. A daily walk is all it takes.
Eat more fresh fruit and vegetables. Fresh fruits and vegetable are an easy way to add fiber to your diet. Another great way to add fiber is to include legumes (beans like kidney, garbanzos, and limas) or peas, such as split peas or lentils. Also try using the GF flours featured in our Guide to Gluten-Free Living.