Fiber is such a vital part of our diet, but too many of us get far too little of this amazing nutrient in the foods we eat – partially because we’re eating the wrong foods and partially because we just don’t know which foods contain the amount of fiber that will give us the biggest bang for our buck. I thought I’d create this handy table of 70 healthy high fiber foods. Many of these foods are built into recipes found in The Belly Burn Plan: Six Weeks to a Lean, Fit & Healthy Body">The Belly Burn Plan.

So why is fiber so important?
First, it’s important to know that there are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. The very uncomplicated definition of each goes like this. Soluble fiber breaks down and is absorbed by our blood, acting like a sponge, pulling all the gunk out. Insoluble fiber can’t break down and stays in our digestive tract, adding bulk and helping to drag unwanted toxins out of our system.

But there’s more. Much, more more!

Sure, fiber helps us poop and is associated with lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, but it’s also an amazing aid in keeping our body’s delicate ecosystem in balance. Fiber helps to increase the amount of good bacteria by feeding it. That’s right, just when you thought all that fiber was just going through you, it turns out the good bacteria in our bellies are making a meal out of this rough stuff. Good for them. Thanks to fiber and healthier bacteria, we’re able to better control insulin levels (and by association blood sugar levels). It’s a win win!

Most of us already know that fiber makes us feel fuller longer, helping us control our weight. That’s old news. But did you know that increasing dietary fiber helps to decrease the chances of you developing diverticulitis (1) (an inflammation of the little pouches in our digestive tract called diverticula)?

So how much should you get?
We should consume somewhere between 20 to 30 grams of fiber everyday. I like to aim high and say 35, but that’s me. Twenty grams may sound doable, but you might be surprised to know that most Americans consume far less.

I’m not a big fan of grains, especially inflammatory glutenous grains. I try to get people to emphasize on vegetables, fruits and pulses for fiber. Check out the list. Pick out a few of your favorite foods and increase the quantities slowly over the next week, building the amount of fiber you eat. If you ramp up too fast, you might feel a little uncomfortable. Fiber gives our digestive tract a workout much in the same way as exercise does our muscles. Too much too soon, and you’ll feel it!

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1) Aldoori, WH, EL Giovannucci, HR Rockett, L. Sampson, EB Rimm, and WC Willett. “A Prospective Study of Dietary Fiber Types and Symptomatic Diverticular Disease in Men.” The Journal of Nutrition 128.4 (1998): 714-9.

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