Fiber is a miracle nutrient. It has many health benefits including: losing and maintaining weight, reducing risk of heart attack and stroke, naturally lowering total and LDL cholesterol levels, reducing risk of diabetes and helping to control blood sugar levels, reducing risk of several kinds of cancer including colon cancer, helping to maintain bowel regularity, and improving overall immunity. Fiber comes from a plant’s cell wall. It is the indigestible part of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. No animal products contain fiber including milk and meat products. Fiber has bulk, but no calories. It is a type of complex carbohydrate, but cannot be absorbed to produce energy (which is why it has no calories). It is a major reason certain foods have a low calorie density. High fiber tends to mean low calorie density. It fills you up with less calories. The main goal when trying to lose weight is to to eat less calories, and just as importantly, also to avoid hunger. You want to be full. Hunger will quickly kill any diet. There are two types of fiber – soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber absorbs water. It forms a thick gel. It will slow down stomach emptying time. Therefore, sugar is released and absorbed more slowly. This helps prevent a blood sugar spike in your bloodstream and also a spike in insulin release. By keeping blood sugar and insulin levels from spiking, fiber helps to prevent and treat diabetes. It will also assist in weight loss. Soluble fiber also helps to naturally lower your total and LDL cholesterol. Good sources of soluble fiber include: apples, carrots, lentils, oat bran, oranges, peaches, and peas. Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water. It passes almost intact through the GI tract. Insoluble fiber helps to move bulk through the intestines. It helps promote regular bowel movements and prevent constipation, removes toxic waste from the colon, and helps prevent colon cancer. Good sources of insoluble fiber include: flaxseed, wheat bran, cauliflower, and fruit skins. Many people get very little fiber in their diet. A good goal would be 40 grams of fiber a day. Increase your intake slowly and drink a lot of water. Make it a habit to look at labels. Look for foods with the highest fiber amount. Look for pasta with a large amount of fiber. Look for cereals and oatmeal with at least 5 grams of fiber per serving. For extra fiber, add flaxseed or berries to your breakfast. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables for a snack. The more processed a food is, the less fiber it will have, and the less healthy it will be. Fiber from supplements is not nearly as good as fiber from whole foods. A high fiber diet is a marker of many anti-cancerous properties of whole foods, especially phytochemicals. Fiber intake from food is a good marker of disease risk. Some studies suggest that the amount of fiber consumed may better predict weight gain/loss, insulin/blood sugar levels, and other cardiovascular risk factors than does the total amount of fat consumed. Remember, fiber is only found in plant products and not in meat, dairy, or highly processed products. Slowly increase your fiber intake with a goal of 40 grams a day. It will help both your health and your waistline.