If you know anything about living a healthy life, you’ve probably heard that it’s important to eat fiber!
And if you haven’t, then we’re letting you know now. Curious to learn why it’s important? Read on.
Fiber is an important nutrient that most children and adults are not getting enough of each day. Fiber helps with satiation (feeling of being full) and with bulking our stool (keeps things moving). A diet high in fiber prevents constipation, gastrointestinal diseases, diabetes, heart disease, certain types of cancer and obesity. Other benefits include increased immune function. Most foods high in fiber are also full of nutrients and are an essential part of healthy digestion. With a grocery list of preventative measures, we should be prioritizing the chance to improve children’s health through adequate fiber intake.
Perhaps the most relevant to children is the role fiber plays on digestive health. Did you know the large intestine is home to over 100 trillion live bacteria. These bacteria are absolutely essential for optimal health. They influence weight management, blood sugar control, immunity, brain function, and mental health. Where does fiber come in? Some types of fiber that are fermentable act as food for the friendly gut bacteria. So, in a roundabout way, eating fiber plays a role in metabolism, focus, and happiness. And what more could we want than happy kids? Fermentable fibers include foods with pectins, beta-glucans, guar gum, inulin, and oligofructose. Let’s translate this to normal terms. Best whole food source? Beans and legumes!
As a fundamental part of a healthy diet, fiber refers to a group of carbohydrates. Thing is, not all fiber is equal. There are various ways to classify fiber. Today we will be classifying fiber as soluble and insoluble.
Soluble fiber forms a gel-like substance in the gut as it blends well with water. Soluble fiber keeps us feeling fuller for longer and as such, reduces blood sugar spikes (think energy crashes...no thank you!).
Types of soluble fiber includes: chia seeds, flax seeds, psyllium, and oats.
Insoluble fiber passes easily through the digestive system as it does not blend well with water. Its main function is to bulk stool, helping speed the passage of food and waste through your gut.
Types of insoluble fiber includes: most vegetables, fruit, and whole grains.
Confused? Incorporating a variety of soluble and insoluble fiber is best for overall health. Think seeds, whole grains, and lots and lots of veggies and you will be set up for success!
A note on fiber in packaged foods. Fiber is often added to cereals, breads, and other grain-based carbohydrates. Be mindful of whether your food choices are primarily whole-foods or primarily coming from a package. As we know, the most nutritious sources of foods are those that come straight from Mother Nature!
Some ways to up your family’s fiber intake: add 1 tbsp of ground flax to your smoothies, make a batch of roasted veggies weekly, try overnight oats, and experiment with different grains - quinoa, spelt groats, brown rice, wild rice, buckwheat, amaranth, etc!
Now that we are full of fiber wisdom, here is a wonderful recipe for you and your family. It 1) takes less than 5 minutes 2) your kids will love it and 3)...you guessed it. It is full of fiber!
Chia pudding is an easy breakfast for busy families. The chia seeds rapidly absorb liquid - around 10 times their volume in under 10 minutes. Kids love watching the chia seeds expand and the toppings are DIY - another reason why your children can easily help prepare this recipe. Remember, incorporating fiber into our diets can lead to optimal digestion, increased mood, and to the prevention of many diseases. Enjoy!
Fully Loaded Chia Pudding
1⁄2 cup chia seeds
2 cups non dairy milk OR 1 can coconut milk + 1⁄4 cup water 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1-2 tbsp maple syrup 2 tbsp hemp hearts
2 tbsp coconut flakes 1⁄2 cup fresh fruit
1. Mix chia, milk, vanilla, maple syrup in a large bowl. Whisk together. Transfer to a large jaror2or3smalljars
2. Place in the fridge overnight. In the morning, add hemp hearts, coconut flakes, fruit. 3. Enjoy! Keeps well in the fridge for 4 days.
Note: feel free to add any toppings you would like - nuts, seeds, natural granola, goji berries, cacao, lemon zest, etc!