We’re all searching for a sustainable, healthy diet, whether it be keto, low carb, vegetarian or just a balance of all things in the pantry.
While there are many different diets out there to try, today we want to talk about one ingredient that you should take seriously in your diet.
We’re talking about fiber.
Fiber is one of the main ingredients of healthy eating that often gets overlooked. If your body isn’t getting the required amounts of natural fiber, you may be prone to disorders such as constipation, gas pain, and worse conditions such as colon cancer.
For those who are looking to have a healthy eating plan, fiber is one of the key elements to that plan. But how often do you think make a conscious choice to include high fiber foods?
If you’re not yet convinced, here are the benefits of consuming high-fiber foods.
What is Fiber?
Dietary fiber is a plant-based nutrient. Sometimes it’s referred to as bulk or roughage.
When we consume carbohydrates, they are broken down into sugar molecules that we digest and use as energy. Dietary fiber is a carbohydrate, but unlike the other cards, it passes through the intestinal tract without being broken down.
As it passes through, it does a lot of work, which is where many of the benefits come from.
Fiber Fights Diseases, and Can Help Stop Overeating
These benefits of a high fiber diet are boosts to digestion, blood sugar levels, weight management, cholesterol maintenance and more, such as reducing the risk of certain diseases.
Eating a high-fiber diet actually helps the body reduce or eradicate bad cholesterol, by binding fat and cholesterol in the digestive tract, which will reduce the overall cholesterol and reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease or complications.
Natural fiber can also help your weight management by causing you to overeat less. High-fiber foods take longer to chew, but also to digest, causing you to feel satisfied and full longer.
Cholesterol Comes with Many Nutrients
Here’s a list of the nutrients in cholesterol and how they benefit you:
- B vitamins (thiamin, Vitamin B1), riboflavin (Vitamin B2), niacin (Vitamin B3) and folate (Vitamin B9), which are important in a variety of biological functions. Folate (folic acid), one of the B vitamins, helps the body form new cells and can prevent certain birth defects.
- Iron, which carries oxygen in the blood.
- Magnesium, a mineral involved in more than 300 body processes.
- Selenium, important for a healthy immune system and regulating thyroid hormone action.
You don’t have to know your science to see how those could be very important to maintaining a feeling of overall health and energy. If you want to learn more, the American Heart Association has a breakdown.
Processed Foods Don’t Have Adequate Fiber Content
Our grocery shelves are often filled with processed meats, processed cheese and all kinds of artificial foods. If you read the labels closer, you’ll find artificial sweeteners, flavorings and preservatives all over your local grocery store shelves.
Many of us love eating processed foods, despite knowing they’re not great for our health. This is okay, for like most things, moderation is key.
If you find yourself eating a heavy diet of processed foods, though, you may need to increase your fiber intake, as most processed foods lack adequate fiber content. As we discussed above, this can lead to all kinds of general health and digestive problems you certainly don’t want.
Even if you replace one meal of processed foods with a solid fiber replacement, it should help get you back on a healthier track.
Fruits, Vegetables and Whole Grains Are Great Sources of Fiber
Fruits and vegetables are great sources of dietary fiber, since dietary fiber is actually a form of plant matter, largely composed of cellulose, which aids the body in digestion. Look to beans, legumes and fruits such as passion fruit for high doses of fiber.
Even still, most vegetables are a solid source of fiber for your daily diet. Consider that you can get fiber from sweet corn, broccoli, potatoes, spinach, kale, carrots, bananas, and much more.
Whole grains are also excellent dietary fiber sources. Looking to whole wheat, brown rice, and even oatmeal can be great ways to meet your fiber intake.
What’s the Recommended Fiber Intake?
The Institute of Medicine recommends a range of 19 to 38 grams of fiber per day, depending on age and gender. Yet most of us fail to meet that range, which can lead to all kinds of complications.
In fact, it’s estimated that only about 5% of us get our recommended fiber intake. Most people think they’re getting enough, but in reality, they’re not, and the negative effects become more obvious with time.
If you become aware of this and incoprorate more fruit, vegetables and whole wheat into your diet, you’re sure to become a part of that 5%. By looking to include fiber in your diet, you can drastically change your digestive health and overall energy, as well as reduce your chances of intestinal and cardiovascular disease.
If that isn’t enough reason to eat more fiber, we don’t know what is.
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