Fiber is essential to digestive health. Adequate amounts of this nutrient in the diet lower the risk of diabetes and heart disease. Fiber is also linked to lowered risk of colon cancer, and possibly breast cancer. We need about 35 to 40% in our diets, that amounts to about 25 to 30 grams a day. Unfortunately, many of us fall short on our fiber intake. A typical diet consist of only 10% or even less. This can lead to many health problems including constipation, acid reflux, hormonal and blood sugar problems.
So what is it and how is involved in good health? Fiber is mainly found in fruit, vegetables and grains. It is the non-digestible part of the carbohydrate found in these foods. Fiber is divided into two types: soluble and insoluble.
Soluble fiber is high in such foods as oatmeal and melons. Soluble fiber absorbs water and helps to keep bowels moving smoothly. Bowels that move regularly have decreased contact time with potential toxins. In addition, soluble fiber helps to promote healthy bacteria and decrease the growth of harmful bacteria in the colon. Soluble fiber also binds fat and removes it through the stool, from the body. This is why it’s great for lowering cholesterol.
Insoluble fiber is prevalent in leafy greens such as kale and Collard greens. Insoluble fiber acts as a bulking agent, triggering a natural stretch response, aiding regular bowel movements. Insoluble fiber also helps to curb appetite by creating the sensation of fullness.
Both types of fiber are also involved in absorption of sugar, thus helping with blood sugar regulation. Excess hormones that have been metabolized in the liver are also moved out of the gut rapidly when there are adequate amounts of fiber in the diet.
Foods containing high amounts of fiber usually also contain hearty amounts vitamins and nutrients. Some wonderful examples of foods containing fiber that you can include in your diet include: kale, Brussel sprouts, Collard greens, brown rice, chard, canteloupe, pears ad oatmeal. There are plenty others, but you can start from there. Bon appetite!
Lentils contain a great amount of protein (18 grams per cup), and they are a good source of soluble fiber. Adequate protein is important for healing and feeding the immune system, and soluble fiber helps with balancing gut flora and digestive health.
Fall Lentils Pacific Northwest Style with Plum Chutney
The PNW twist with this recipe is that we add apples to the lentils instead of potatoes. Apples will imbue a sweetness and supply some substance. The flavor is savory, and the plum chutney adds some zip, and color.
3 cups of lentils
6 cups of water
10 cloves of garlic, minced
1 TBS curry spice
1 TBS of fresh ginger
2 TBS of cumin
2 branches of broccoli, chopped
4 small apples, sliced and halved
Salt to taste
In to a pot add water and lentils turn on heat to medium. After the lentils have cooked for about an hour add the rest of the ingredients. Cook for another 30 to 60 minutes on low heat. You may have to add more water to cover the lentils. Serve in a bowl, and add a spoon full or two of the plum chutney. To add a little heat to the flavor you can use hot sauce or add cayenne pepper to taste when adding the other spices