Fiber is a necessary part of your diet, since it helps your intestinal tract push out waste from the foods you consume. It fills up your gut, which improves satiety and keeps you full for hours. Diets high in fiber also decrease your risk of heart disease because fiber helps your body excrete excess cholesterol in your blood. Fiber comes in two forms: soluble and insoluble. Many high-fiber foods contain both types of fiber, but most foods have higher amounts of one or the other. If you want to increase your insoluble fiber intake to treat constipation or diverticulosis, choose foods that are high in this nutrient.
Soluble vs. Insoluble
Both soluble and insoluble fiber are important in your diet, and you need roughly equal amounts of both. Soluble fiber attracts fluid in your digestive tract and forms a slow-moving thick sludge which is also beneficial in patients with diarrhea. This substance slows digestion, which gives essential vitamins and minerals time to absorb through intestinal walls. Insoluble fiber stays relatively intact and sweeps through your digestive tract pushing out waste. This type of fiber adds bulk to your stools and makes bowel movements easier to pass especially in people with constipation. Parts of the food that are high in insoluble fiber often look the same in your stools, since insoluble fiber does not break down in your gut.
You need varying amounts of fiber, depending on age and gender. For every 1,000 calories you consume, you need 14 grams of fiber. Generally, women tend to consume fewer calories than men. Because of the varying caloric intake between genders, women need around 21 to 25 grams of fiber, while men need to get 30 to 38 grams, according to the Institute of Medicine.
Fruits and Vegetables
Insoluble fiber is the tough hard-to-chew part of grains and produce. For example, the soft inner part of apples is loaded with soluble fiber, but the outer skin that takes longer for you to chew is high in insoluble fiber. Salads include an array of veggies that contain insoluble fiber. Cabbage, lettuce, onions and bell peppers are loaded with this type of fiber. The outer husk of corn kernels is a rich source of insoluble fiber, as well as the skin of cucumbers, grapes and peas.
Whole-wheat flour, whole grains and wheat bran are chock-full of insoluble fiber. Read the nutrition facts label on your favorite type of bread or cereal. Ingredients on food labels are listed by weight. The term “whole grain” or “whole wheat” should be listed in the first few ingredients. This way you can be assured that the food you purchase is a good source of insoluble fiber.
Popcorn is an excellent source of insoluble fiber, but you should avoid piling butter on this popped snack. Adding high-fat butter packs excessive calories on popcorn, which is naturally low in calories. Dried fruits, including dates and prunes, are well-known for their role in relieving constipation. These foods are high in insoluble fiber and keep your bowels moving.