Table of Contents
- Types of Fibers
- Benefits of Fiber
- Tips To Add Fiber To Your Diet
Fiber or roughage keeps our motions regular, but that’s not all it does for our body. Eating high-fiber foods helps lose weight, improves skin health, and prevents heart diseases, strokes, and diabetes. Studies have shown that it might help prevent colon cancer as well.
Fiber is a major constituent of plant-based foods like nuts, fruits, grains, vegetables, and beans, which the body cannot directly break down in the digestion process. Since it passes undigested, it cleans the digestive system quite well. It eases bowel movements and flushes carcinogens and cholesterol out of the body keeping the digestive system healthy.
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Types of Fibers
Soluble Fiber – it dissolves in water and regulates blood sugar as well as reduces cholesterol. Oatmeal, beans, nuts, barley, citrus fruits, apples, berries, pears, etc. are all good sources of soluble fiber
Insoluble Fiber – a bulky fiber that doesn’t dissolve in water; prevents constipation. Celery, carrots, wheat cereals, whole grains, and tomatoes are some of the good sources of insoluble fibers
Several foods contain both types of fibers and some like meat, dairy, and sugar contain no fiber at all. White bread, rice, pastries, etc. contain negligible amounts of fiber. Processed foods contain almost no fiber.
Benefits of Fiber
Fiber helps to lose and maintain weight by adding bulk to the diet. It aids digestion and prevents constipation. Fiber fills you up sooner than would other foods and thus reduces your food intake. Moreover, it takes longer than other foods to be digested, which also reduces food intake. Fibrous foods provide more energy for exercising and eliminates extra fats from the digestive system.
Fruits and vegetables are high in fiber and low in calories. Adding them to your diet satiates your hunger and cuts down on calories. Fiber improves the fat burning capacity of the body by regulating blood sugar levels. It also avoids spikes in insulin levels that increase cravings and reduce disposable energy.
Fiber bulks up stools, which makes it easier to pass. This prevents constipation and even diarrhea since it soaks water. Fiber also relieves the bothersome symptoms of IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). Studies suggest that fiber-rich diets reduce the possibility of kidney stones, gallstones, hemorrhoids, and inflammation of the intestine (diverticulitis). Others have shown that it might reduce the risk of GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disorder) and ulcers as well.
Soluble fiber reduces the absorption of sugar, which maintains blood sugar levels. It is essential to include fiber-rich foods in your diet if you consume a lot of carbs. Fibers prevent blood sugar levels to reach harmful levels. Including insoluble fiber-rich foods in your diet reduces the risk of type-2 diabetes.
Fiber benefits include a reduced risk of colorectal and breast cancer. Fiber-rich vegetables and fruits are also rich in phytochemicals and antioxidants; compounds that further reduce the risk of cancers. Lower risk of chronic diseases increases the lifespan.
There is no need for natural detox drinks like juices if you consume enough fiber-rich foods. Fiber cleans the gastrointestinal tract by naturally scrubbing and eliminating toxins. Soluble fibers soak up harmful compounds like unhealthy fats before the body absorbs them. Fiber also eliminates chemicals like mercury, pesticides, and BPA present in the system.
Fiber is a good source of sustenance for the good bacteria in your gut. These bacteria produce short-chain fatty acids by consuming fermented fibers into the gastrointestinal tract. These fatty acids lower inflammation and thereby, reduce the risk of obesity and heart problems. Consuming fiber manifests its benefits within a few days.
A healthy heart requires a fiber-rich (soluble) diet. Soluble fibers benefits include reducing bad cholesterol (LDL) in the body. Fiber reduces the risk of metabolic syndrome, which is a major cause of diabetes, stroke, and coronary heart disease. Finally, foods high in fiber contents reduce inflammation, improve good cholesterol (HDL) levels, lower blood pressure, and reduce weight.
Tips To Add Fiber To Your Diet
Starting your day with whole grain cereals is a good way to get the needed fiber. Instead of corn flakes, you can have bran flakes, which will add up to 6 grams of fiber to your diet. You can also have a hearty oatmeal breakfast with a lot of fruits like apples, bananas, and berries on the side.
Vegetables are one of the best sources of fiber. The health benefits of vegetables include lowering the risk of chronic diseases. Non-starchy veggies are especially good as they contain lots of nutrients and have low amounts of calories. Moreover, consuming fiber-rich foods like veggies before a meal improves the digestion process. It also increases the number of vegetables consumed per meal. If you eat vegetables before a meal, you will eat less.
We all get cravings for food at odd hours during the day. You can carry fruits like pears or apples anywhere and have them whenever you feel hungry between meals. Fruits satiate sugar cravings as well. Fruits are fiber-rich and much healthier than processed or packaged foods.
Whole grains are processed minimally, which leaves the grain intact. Refined grains, for that matter, are robbed of their vitamins and fibers. While refined grains last longer, they only contain carbs that are absorbed quickly by the body. Add oatmeal, brown rice, barley, buckwheat, millet, quinoa, and other whole grains to your diet.
Chia seeds are superfoods that contain omega-3 fatty, vitamins & minerals, and protein. They are 95% insoluble fibers that keep the digestive tract moving. They are also associated with a lower risk of diabetes. Flax seeds also have similar benefits on the body.