Fiber Fabulous: Does Your Gluten-Free Diet Contain Enough Fiber?
By Vanessa Maltin Weisbrod, Delight Executive Editor
There’s a lot of confusion out there about fiber. Many people on a gluten-free diet think they can’t get enough because they’ve eliminated wheat from their diet. That’s a myth. There are actually thousands of products lining your local grocery store shelves that can pack fiber into your daily gluten-free diet.
Before we get into what foods contain fiber, let’s take a step back and understand exactly what fiber is and why it’s good for us.
According to the Harvard School of Public Health, fiber refers to “carbohydrates that cannot be digested.” It’s present in all plants we eat for food, such as vegetables, fruits, legumes, and grains.
Fiber comes in two varieties: soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and is typically found in beans, fruits, and legumes. Insoluble fiber is commonly referred to as the “gut-healthy fiber” and is best known for its ability to help support regularity, which in turn helps maintain a healthy digestive system. As its name suggests, insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water and is most often found in whole grain products and vegetables.
For decades, researchers have recommended consumption of fiber as part of a healthy diet in hopes of staving off development of many common conditions including diabetes, heart disease, constipation, and diverticular diseases. Current recommendations suggest adults and children consume at least 20 grams of dietary fiber daily…that means getting it the natural way by eating food, not from nutritional supplements.
So how can you do it?
Although whole grain wheat bread, pasta, and many nutrition bars are off limits for those on a gluten-free diet, there are thousands of possibilities for boosting your fiber intake while managing a gluten-free diet. And the best way to do it is the natural way!
Next time you head to the grocery store, fill your grocery cart with fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as naturally gluten-free grains such as quinoa and brown rice. Lentils are a naturally gluten-free source of fiber that can be deliciously prepared in a number of soups, salads, and side dishes. Instead of buying concentrated juices, try purchasing fresh fruits and squeezing your own juice at home (but keep in mind that there is far less fiber in fruit juice than in the fruit itself).
To help understand fiber even more, we called upon Dr. Sass Moulavi, Medical Director of Smart for Life, to answer some of our toughest questions.
DGF: Why is it important to maintain appropriate levels of fiber in your diet?
Dr. Sass: Fiber is critical for good health. Studies have shown that people who eat the right amount of fiber (about 30 grams per day) have an easier time maintaining and losing weight as well reaping the following benefits:
· Normalized bowel movements
· Lowered cholesterol
· Control of blood sugar
· Reduced risk of colon cancer
· Reduced cardiovascular disease
· Reduced symptoms of certain inflammatory and irritable bowel diseases
DGF: Why does it seem more difficult for people on gluten-free diets to get adequate amounts of fiber?
Dr. Sass: People who eat a gluten-containing diet have a hard time getting enough fiber; it is even harder for people who eat a gluten-free diet to do so. Most baked goods that include gluten often will contain high fiber; when gluten is removed, so is the fiber. The gluten-free industry has been slow to adopt fiber and super fiber fortification in its food.
DGF: What are some tips to help people on a gluten-free diet get enough fiber in their diet?
Dr. Sass: People should read the label on gluten-free products and make sure that the products they eat contain enough fiber. Even some drinks have a new class of fibers called “super fiber” that has multiple times the fiber effects. Example of these would be ThinAdventure Fiber found in underWAY and certain gluten-free Smart for Life products. Increasing green leafy vegetables will also increase fiber intake. Ultimately, if people do not meet the recommended 30 grams of fiber for men and 25 grams for women, they should supplement their diet with a gluten-free fiber tablet.
Be sure to check out our Fiber Fabulous Recipes!
Thu, November 17, 2011
by Vanessa Maltin Weisbrod filed under