We’ve all heard that fiber is an important part of a well-balanced diet, but why? And how do you incorporate fiber into your diet?
What is Fiber?
Fiber is a complex carbohydrate that is not digested by the body. Even though you don’t digest it, fiber is important because it helps regulate how much sugar the body uses. Most people need 20 to 30 grams of fiber a day. However, most Americans only consume around 15 grams a day.
There are two different types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and helps keep glucose levels and blood cholesterol low. Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water and it moves through your digestive system and helps keep your digestion regular. Both types of fiber are important to incorporate into a healthful diet.
Fiber helps remove waste from the body. It prevents constipation and helps dilute any harmful substances. Dietary fiber helps you feel full for longer, which is handy if you are trying to lose weight. Fiber can also help you control your cholesterol because fiber-rich diets reduce the amount of cholesterol your bloodstream absorbs.
You don’t have to just eat a ton of beans all the time in order to get your fiber fix. Fiber is easy to find in a wide variety of foods. Good sources of fiber include fresh fruits and vegetables, brown rice, whole wheat bread, beans, legumes and flaxseed.
Incorporating fiber into your diet doesn’t require a lot of effort either. You can add beans and legumes to soups and chilis in order to increase the amount of fiber in your meal.
One of the easiest ways to increase your fiber intake is to switch out white grains with whole wheat grains. Buy whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, and brown rice instead of their white counterparts. This will allow you to enjoy many of the foods you love in a healthier form. Nuts and seeds are also a great source of fiber. You can snack on almonds between meals or add sunflower seeds to your salads. Try to incorporate fiber into every meal and choose fiber-rich snacks. A very popular idea is to use fresh fruit and flaxseed to make a smoothie.
You could also consider incorporating products such as ground flaxseed into your diet. You can add ground flaxseed to a variety of foods such as smoothies, cereal, and juice. You can even use ground flaxseed in your baking and cooking, so even your favorite treats and meals can be fiber rich and healthy.
Another bonus of adding fiber into your diet is that most foods that contain fiber also contain other nutrients. For example, flax seeds are high in fiber and also the best source of omega-3 essential fatty acids, protein and lignans. This makes flax a great way to fight heart disease and cancer.
Need another reason to eat a fiber-rich diet? Studies have shown that fiber can help prevent certain disease. Several Harvard studies have also found that people with low amounts of fiber in their diets could have a greater risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes. This is because fiber helps regulate blood sugar spikes, so diets low in fiber do not do this as well.
Fiber is also important to eat in order to avoid diverticulitis, which is inflammation of the intestine. This is a common disorder people get as they age. Eating a fiber-rich diet can reduce your risk of getting a diverticular disease.
A 2016 study showed that high fiber diets could reduce the risk of breast cancer, especially for females who ate high-fiber foods during childhood and adolescence. One study surveyed 44,000 women about their eating habits in high school and throughout adulthood. The results showed that the women who ate high fiber diets had a 24 percent lower risk of developing breast cancer prior to menopause. Why might there be a correlation between these unrelated things? While there is not yet a definitive answer to that question, there are some possibilities. There is evidence that fiber could reduce circulating estrogen levels. High-fiber diets may improve insulin sensitivity.
Fiber is such an important part of your diet for so many reasons. Not only will it improve your digestion and make you feel better now, but it will have a positive impact on your life in the future as well!