You have probably heard about the health benefits of fiber, but do you just take things in stride, or do you take steps to add more fiber to your family’s diet? Good nutrition plays a key role in keeping our families healthy, and since fiber offers great health benefits, it is just proper that we give it due attention.
If you try to read food labels, you will find out that there are actually two categories of fiber. The first category is insoluble fiber, which is the type that doesn’t dissolve in water. It helps food to pass through your digestive system quickly, thereby increasing the bulk of stool. It can be found in wheat bran, nuts, whole-wheat flour, and in many vegetables.
Soluble fiber on the other hand, is the type that dissolves in water forming a gel-like material. It works by slowing digestion, and nutrient absorption in the stomach and in the intestines. Soluble fiber can help lower cholesterol, and blood glucose levels. This type of fiber can be found in peas, oat bran, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, and psyllium.
For a child older than two years old, an easy way to determine his dietary fiber needs is by adding 5 to his age in years. This would mean that a 5 year old child would need 10 grams of fiber each day. For females older than 15 years old, they should consume approximately 20-25 grams of fiber each day. The fiber needs of males 15 years and older are slightly higher, and they should get around 30-38 grams of fiber each day.
In order to get the best health benefit, you should try to offer a wide variety of high-fiber foods to your family. It is also best if you gradually add fiber in your family’s meals, so that their digestive systems will have time to adjust. The best sources of fiber include whole-grain breads and cereals, legumes, artichokes, almonds, green peas, and fruits like apples, oranges, berries, prunes, and pears.
If your kids don’t like to eat oatmeal for breakfast, there are other healthy alternatives that may be palatable to their picky tastes. Try to make whole-grain pancakes, and top it with fruits like berries or raisins, or you may serve whole-grain cereal that contains at least 3 grams of fiber in each serving. You may even just add some high-fiber food items to your child’s favorite dishes. By doing so, you are simply adding fiber to something that your child already likes.
You don’t really have to come up with totally new recipes to make high-fiber meals for your family. You simply have to spice up your family’s well-loved dishes by adding ingredients that are high in fiber. Make homemade cookies by using whole wheat flour, and don’t forget to add fruits like raisins, berries, or pureed apples. Serve fruit at every meal, or you can try to be creative by adding fruits to your child’s favorite desserts.
When buying breads, muffins, bagels and other baked products, choose the whole-grain variety. Many children love pastas and tacos, and it is also healthier if you opt the ones made out of whole-grain flour. If you prepare baked potatoes, leave the skin on for a healthier fare. In cooking recipes with rice, choose brown rice because it contains more fiber as compared to white rice.
With its many health benefits, there is no doubt that fiber is definitely good for everyone, young and old alike. And it is very important that we are able to identify high-fiber foods, so that we can gradually add these to our family’s diet. For as long as you make the right food choices, healthy meals can also be tasty. Keep in mind that healthier meals can also be tasty, for as long as you make the right food choices.