Your doctor has told you time and time again – you need more fiber in your diet. Any good nutritionist will tell you the same thing. The average person isn’t generally excited about running out to buy a powdered fiber supplement, especially since quite a few of them are less than pleasant to drink. You can add fiber to your diet by eating more fruits and vegetables, but if you’d like to be a bit more creative you should definitely try juicing as well.
Soluble and Insoluble Fiber
There are two main types of fiber – soluble and insoluble – and both are critical to your health. Insoluble fiber is great for your intestines and often works as a laxative. It doesn’t absorb water, which helps it to pass through your intestines, pulling waste and toxins along with it at a faster rate then they would pass without added fiber. Insoluble fibers are often found in whole grains, wheats, seeds, nuts, zucchini, celery, broccoli, and dark leafy green vegetables.
Soluble fiber does absorb water, which then allows it to form into a gel. That gel slows your digestive process, giving you a sensation of fullness, preventing you from overeating. Soluble fiber has also been linked to lower cholesterol levels and the regulation of blood sugars. Soluble fiber is often found in oatmeal, apples, pears, oat bran, flax seeds, cucumbers, celery, and beans.
According to Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, LD of WebMD, the average person should be eating anywhere from 25 to 38 grams of fiber per day, while most of us only get around 15. It’s not as important to focus on the type of fiber you’re eating as it is to focus on eating fruits and vegetables more often. The only time you really need to focus on whether you’re eating more soluble or insoluble fiber is if you are trying to control a specific medical condition.
How Do I Know I Need More Fiber?
One of the key signs you need more fiber is constipation. No two people are alike, so I can’t tell you how many times per day you should be having a bowel movement, but if you’re having less than 3 per week – or are going less often than your individual “norm” – it’s safe to say you’re not getting enough fiber.
Those who aren’t getting enough fiber tend to gain weight as well. Not having enough fiber means you won’t feel “full” when you eat, leading you to consume more than your body actually wants or needs.
If you’re treating medical conditions, like diabetes or cholesterol, you’ll likely see your bloodwork numbers creeping into the higher ranges if you aren’t getting enough fiber.
Choosing the Right Vegetables to Juice
There are a few things to remember as you prepare to juice. First, juicing separates the soluble and insoluble fibers from the fruits and vegetables you use. This means you’ll be adding some fiber to your diet, but you’ll still need to actually eat fruits and vegetables in order to get all of the different fibers that fall into those two main categories.
When you do choose the fruits and vegetables you’d like to combine, try to lean more towards vegetables. Fruits are high in natural fructose and juicing concentrates that fructose even more. If you’re not careful, you could accidentally spike your blood sugar or stall your weight loss goals by drinking too much.
In terms of flavor, starting out with vegetables alone may turn you off a little bit. I personally like to start with a base of ½ cucumber, 1 rib of celery, 1 carrot, and ½ an apple. To that, I’ll add my main vegetable choice of the day. Some days I may add a couple more carrots to make a nice carrot juice. Other days I’ll add spinach, beets, or even tomato. I’ve even made juice with sweet potatoes.
There are tons of great juice recipes you can choose from and all of them will help you to add fiber to your diet. If you’re suffering from certain medical conditions, you may want to lean towards more specific choices. For example, according to The Juicing Bible, apples, broccoli, and watercress are great for those who frequently suffer from headaches. Bananas, papayas, beets, and cabbage are excellent choices for those who suffer from heartburn.
Make your choices based on your personal preferences, making sure – again – to prioritize vegetables over fruits. You’ll be amazed at how delicious, satisfying, and healthy fresh juices can be. If you’d like to take it a step further, you can look at doing a raw food diet.