You’ve seen it on nutritional labels, you have seen fiber supplements, but what exactly is plant fiber, and why is it important? If you are wondering what plant fibers do exactly and if you should be making sure to get the right amount during the day, you have come to the right spot.
Here, we break down what plant fibers are, their benefits, and easy ways to include more fiber in your diet. There are even some handy, delicious recipes at the end to help you incorporate more fiber.
What Are Plant Fibers?
Plants don’t have a skeleton as an animal does, but what they do have is fiber. Fiber helps a plant keep its form. When we eat plants that are high in fiber, we can gain many health benefits. Fiber is an indigestible carbohydrate that improves the health of the gut, and in turn, supports overall health. Different types of fiber play different roles, so it’s important to get a wide variety.
Soluble fiber is dissolved in water and creates a gel substance in the gut. This gel helps slow down digestion and leaves you feeling full longer.
Insoluble fibers do not dissolve in water. These fibers generally stay unchanged and create a bulkier stool, helping in easier digestion.
Fermentable fibers are fibers good bacteria can digest or ferment and use as fuel. Inulin, pectins, beta-glucans, guar gum, and oligofructose are all fermentable fibers.
While resistant starch is not technically a fiber, it acts as a fiber. This special type of starch is not digested in the stomach, much like fiber, and ends up in the intestines as food for the good bacteria, like fermentable fibers.
Benefits of Plant Fiber
Fiber has many benefits, and everyone should make sure to consume fiber throughout the day to take advantage of them.
Probably the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about plant fiber is easing constipation, and for good reason. Insoluble fiber helps bulk up and smooth your stool, which makes going to the bathroom a lot easier. It might sound gross, but it’s an important part of life!
Not only does fiber help move the waste out of the gut easily, but it also helps feed the good bacteria in the gut. These types of fibers, like fermented fibers and resistant starches, are also called prebiotics. Prebiotics give the good bacteria the fuel they need to do their job of aiding in digestion and keeping the bad bacteria away.
Lower Cholesterol Levels
The superstar fiber for maintaining healthy cholesterol levels is soluble fiber. When the soluble fibers mix with water, it creates a gel-like substance that attracts the cholesterol particles. The cholesterol is then unable to be released into the bloodstream and is instead removed from the body in the stool.
Support Healthy Metabolic Function
Soluble fibers help slow the absorption of sugar and fat into the bloodstream, which may help stop spikes in blood sugars.
Maintain Healthy Weight
There are a lot of ways to manage a healthy weight, but one way is to increase fiber. Foods high in fiber make you feel fuller longer, which can help you to make better food choices when you are not overly hungry. High-fiber foods also generally have fewer calories per volume.
Easy Ways to Add More Plant Fiber to Your Diet
Fiber is an important nutrient in a healthy diet. Women should aim for a daily fiber intake of 21 to 25 grams a day, and men should have between 30 to 38 grams of fiber a day. Here are some easy ways to add more fiber to your diet.
Switch to Whole Grains
An easy way to add more fiber into your diet is to switch to whole grain pasta and bread. When grains are processed to make white bread, the bran, or the hard outer layer of the grain, is removed. It is within this bran that a lot of nutrients are found, including fiber.
Eat More Plant-Based Foods
It may seem like an obvious recommendation, but increasing your consumption of plant-based foods is important for getting your daily recommendation of plant fiber. Plant-based foods don't just include fruits and veggies—they’re also beans, nuts, and seeds, which can help increase your daily fiber intake.
Choose the Right Snacks
When you are hungry before your next meal, be mindful of what you are reaching for. Instead of grabbing potato chips, grab some organic popcorn. Switch out that candy bar for an apple and peanut butter. Making small changes throughout the day can help you increase your daily fiber and can improve your overall health.
Don’t Forget About Your Drinks
Hydration is very important when you are eating fiber. Fiber works hand in hand with water in the gut. You don't have to simply drink water, though. You can make yourself a smoothie with fruits and veggies, add in some seeds, and you have yourself a smoothie packed with fiber.
You can also pop open a can of our delicious prebiotic soda made with plant fibers. This is the perfect afternoon to pick me up. Sit back and take in the refreshing flavors, all while adding to your daily fiber intake.
Delicious Plant Fiber Recipes
Here are some easy recipes to add some more fiber to your life.
Overnight Oats With Chia Seeds
One delicious breakfast recipe is Peanut Butter Overnight Oats. For this simple recipe, all you need to do is add plant-based milk, chia seeds, oats, a little natural peanut butter, and a sweetener of your choice (we recommend stevia) to a mason jar. Once your ingredients are in the jar and stirred, close the lid and put it in the fridge.
In the morning, you will have a satisfying breakfast you can eat cold or hot, and top with berries or bananas. This recipe has over eight grams of fiber, which is sure to leave you feeling full for your busy day ahead.
Warm Veggie Salad
For lunch on the go, these Creamy Avocado & White Bean Wraps are tasty and satisfying, with over 12 grams of protein. They may seem like a little bit of work upfront, but once you prep the slaw and bean mixture, they are easy to put together.
You can wrap them in foil, place your wrap and your VINA Probiotic Soda in your lunch bag, and hit the road.
This fettuccine with Swiss chard and mushrooms is a perfect way to close out a busy day. With eight grams of fiber, you will be left feeling full, without the need for a late-night snack. You can switch out the Swiss chard with any dark leafy greens, like kale or spinach.
Plant fibers are an important part of your daily nutrients helping gut and digestion health, maintaining healthy cholesterol and sugar levels, and maintaining a healthy weight. While we need to make sure we are meeting our daily fiber levels, there are easy ways to add fiber into your diet by switching to whole grains, adding more plant-based foods, and choosing the right snacks and drinks.
At VINA, our refreshing prebiotic sodas are delicious and have nutrients like fiber and trace minerals. Whether you are sitting by the pool or wishing you were, VINA is the perfect fiber-filled refreshment.