Dietary fiber: essential to a healthy diet


Dietary fiber: essential to a healthy diet

Fiber provides many health benefits. Below, we'll show you how to include more fiber in your diet.

Dietary fiber: essential to a healthy diet

More fiber intake. You've likely heard this phrase before, but do you know what makes fiber good for your health?

Dietary fiber, found mainly in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, is known to prevent and relieve constipationBut high-fiber foods may provide other health

benefits, too, such as helping to maintain healthy body weight and lowering the risk of diabetes or heart disease.

It is not difficult to choose foods that have fiber. Find out how much dietary fiber you need and how to add it to your main meals and snacks.

What is dietary fiber?

Dietary fiber, also known as roughage or bulk, includes all parts of plant foods that the body cannot digest or absorb. Unlike other components of food, such as fats, proteins, or carbohydrates, which are broken down and absorbed by the body, fiber cannot be digested by the body. Instead, it passes relatively well through your stomach, small intestine, and colon, and then out of your body.

Fiber is usually categorized as soluble (dissolves in water) or insoluble (does not dissolve) in water, as follows:

  • Soluble fiber: This type of fiber dissolves in water to form a gel-like substance. It may help reduce cholesterol and glucose levels. Soluble fiber is found in oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, barley, and psyllium.
  • Insoluble fiber: This type of fiber promotes the movement of substances through the digestive system and increases stool bulk, so it may be beneficial for those who suffer from constipation or irregular bowel movementsWhole-wheat flour, wheat bran, legumes, and vegetables, such as broccoli, green beans, and potatoes, are good sources of insoluble fiber.

Plant-based foods, such as oatmeal and legumes, contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. However, the amount varies between different plant foods. For maximum health benefit, eat a wide variety of foods rich in fiber.

Benefits of a high-fiber diet

A high-fiber diet offers many benefits, including:

  • Regulating the process of defecation: Dietary fiber increases the volume and weight of stool and softens it. Because large stools are easier to pass out of the body, this lowers the chance of constipation. If you have loose and loose stools, fiber may help make your stools firmer because it absorbs water and adds lumps to your stool.
  • This helps keep bowel movements healthy: A high-fiber diet may reduce the risk of developing hemorrhoids and small pouches in the colon (diverticular disease). Some of the fiber is brewed in the colon. Researchers are studying how this might play a role in preventing colon disease.
  • Lower cholesterol levels: Soluble fiber found in legumes, oats, flax, and oat bran may help lower total blood cholesterol levels by lowering levels of low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, cholesterol. Studies have also shown that there may be other benefits for heart health, such as lowering blood pressure and inflammation.
  • Help lower blood sugar levels: Fiber, especially soluble fiber, can slow the absorption of sugar in people with diabetes and improve blood sugar levels. A healthy diet that contains insoluble fiber may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
  • Help achieve a healthy weight: High-fiber foods generally take more time to chew, which gives your body time to put things in order so you don't feel hungry anymore, and you're less likely to overeat. Also, a high-fiber diet makes your meal feel larger and lasts longer, which results in you feeling full and full for a longer period of time. High-fiber diets are also "low energy", meaning they have fewer calories than the same volume of other foods.
Eat dietary fiber

Another benefit of eating dietary fiber is the prevention of colorectal cancer. However, the evidence that fiber reduces the risk of colorectal cancer is inconclusive.

How much fiber do you need?

How much fiber do you need per day? The Institute of Medicine, which provides research-based advice on articles on medicine and health, offers the following daily recommendations for adults:

Institute of Medicine, 2012

Best Fiber Choices

If you are not eating enough fiber each day, you may need to increase your intake. Good choices include:

  • Whole grain products
  • the fruit
  • vegetables
  • Beans, peas, and other legumes
  • Nuts and grains

Processed or refined foods, such as canned fruits and vegetables, pulp-free juices, white bread and pasta, and breakfast cereals made with whole grains, contain less fiber. The process of refining the grain removes its outer shell (bran) which reduces its fiber content. Similarly, removing the peel from fruits and vegetables reduces their fiber content.

Fiber supplements and fortified foods

In general, whole foods are better than fiber supplements. Fiber supplements, such as Metamucil, Citrucel, and Vibrcon, do not provide as many fiber, vitamins, minerals, and beneficial nutrients as foods do.

However, some people may still need fiber supplements if changing their diet isn't enough for them or they have certain medical conditions, such as constipation, diarrhea, or irritable bowel syndrome. Always check with your doctor if you feel you need to take a fiber supplement.

Also, fiber is added to some foods. However, it is not yet clear whether or not added fiber provides the same health benefits as natural sources.

Tips for adding fiber to your diet

Need any ideas for adding more fiber to your main meals and snacks? Try the following suggestions:

  • Start your day with fiber: For breakfast, choose a high-fiber breakfast cereal, which has 5 grams or more of fiber per serving. Choose breakfast cereals with "whole grain," "bran," or "fiber" in their name, or add a few tablespoons of unprocessed wheat bran to your favorite breakfast cereal.
  • Switch to whole grains: Make at least half of your grains whole grains. Look for bread that has whole wheat, whole wheat flour, or any other whole grain as the first ingredient. And look for a brand that contains at least 2 grams of dietary fiber per serving. Try brown rice, wild rice, barley, whole-wheat pasta, and bulgur.
  • Add more fiber to baked goods: When making baked goods, replace whole-grain flour with half of all of the white flour, as whole-grain flour has more fiber. For baked goods that contain yeast, use more yeast or let the dough rise more. When using baking powder, you can increase it by about 1 tablespoon for every 3 cups of whole-grain flour. Also, try adding crushed bran, unprocessed wheat bran, or uncooked oatmeal to pancakes, muffins, and cookies.
  • Diversify your sources of fiber: add frozen or fresh cut vegetables to soups and sauces; For example, mix frozen broccoli pieces with spaghetti sauce while preparing it, or add small pieces of carrots to stews.
  • Create a variety of recipes by adding legumes: Beans, peas, and lentils are excellent sources of fiber. You can add kidney beans to canned soups or green salads. Or you can make toasty chips with black beans and lots of fresh vegetables, or whole-wheat tortilla chips with salsa.
  • Eat fruits with every meal: Apples, bananas, oranges, pears, and berries are good sources of fiber.
  • Boost your snacking: Fresh fruits, raw vegetables, low-fat popcorn, and whole-grain crackers are convenient snack options. An occasional handful of nuts or dried fruits will provide you with a healthy, high-fiber snack, but be aware that these foods are high in calories.

High-fiber foods are good for your health. But adding too much fiber to your diet too soon can cause gas, flatulence, and cramping. So, gradually add fiber to your diet over the course of a few weeks, as this gives the natural bacteria in your digestive system adaptability to change.

Also, be sure to drink plenty of water. Fiber works best when it absorbs water, making stools soft and lumpy.