When thinking of a balanced diet, carbohydrates, proteins, fats and dairy may come to mind, but what about fiber?
According to Rachel Perkins-Garner, 56th Medical Group registered nurse, fiber, which is also called roughage or bulk, is the plant foods that your body canâ€™t digest or absorb, unlike fats, proteins and carbohydrates.
Perkins-Garner said there are two categories of fiber; insoluble (does not dissolve in water) and soluble (dissolves in water).
Sources of insoluble fiber include whole wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts, barley, couscous, brown rice and zucchinis; soluble fiber can be found in oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits and carrots.
â€œInsoluble fiber helps move material through your digestive system by increasing stool bulk, which can prevent constipation or aid those who experience irregular bowel movements,â€ Perkins-Garner said. â€œSoluble fiber dissolves in water to form a gel-like substance; it can help lower blood cholesterol and help manage blood sugar levels.â€
For Marian Budnik, 56th Medical Group registered nurse, roughage isnâ€™t just important for the end result, it plays a role in the digestion process from start to finish.
â€œIt slows down the eating process and helps contribute to a feeling of being full, which in turn can help prevent overeating,â€ she said. â€œIt also makes food more satisfying and at the last stage, it is broken down in the colon by bacteria. This process is called fermentation; the simple organic acids produced by this breakdown help nourish the lining of the colon.â€
According to the American Heart Association, fiber is beneficial for a personâ€™s diet since it reduces the risk of heart disease, lowers the risk of several forms of cancer, while also improving oneâ€™s cholesterol and blood pressure.
The American Heart Association recommends 25 to 38 grams of fiber a day in a well-balanced diet.
Budnik suggests eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
â€œTry adding your favorites such as beans, peas, barley, lentils, quinoa, bulgar or brown rice,â€ Budnik said. â€œEat oatmeal, bran or whole grain cereal for breakfast and make at least half of your grain servings whole grain.â€