Eating more fiber is healthful. This is something we often hear and we believe that it’s true but do you know the reason why? What is fiber and why is it important?
Dietary fiber is a kind of carbohydrate that the body can’t break down into sugar molecules like other carbohydrates. Undigested, fiber passes throughout the body instead and helps the body in regulating how sugar is used.
There are two types of fiber, soluble fiber and insoluble fiber.
Soluble fiber can be dissolved in water and can be digested by the good bacteria found in the gut. Fruits, nuts, oatmeal, beans, and barley are good sources of soluble fiber.
Insoluble fiber can’t be dissolved in water and helps in moving food throughout the digestive system. Vegetables, wheat cereals, wheat bread, brown rice, and whole grains are great sources of insoluble fiber.
Sugar, dairy, and meat have no fiber in them but there are plenty of foods that have both insoluble and soluble fiber. The more unprocessed and natural the food is, the more fiber it contains. Processed or refined foods such as white rice, white bread, chips, cakes, and pastries have little or no fiber at all.
95% of Americans don’t eat enough fiber in their daily food consumption. It’s recommended that the daily intake of dietary fiber should be from 19 grams to 38 grams depending on a person’s age and gender. Do you belong to the 95%? Here are 10 Awesome Health Benefits of Eating Fiber that would convince you to make the shift:
Promotes digestive health
Adequate intake of dietary fiber helps in normalizing the bowel movements by making the stool bulky and make it easy for them to pass through. This aids in relieving symptoms of constipation and diarrhea. Having plenty of fiber in your diet reduces the risk of having gallstones, hemorrhoids, kidney stones, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), and inflammation of the intestines.
Lessen the risk of type 2 diabetes
Soluble fiber slows down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream and helps in improving the levels of blood sugar. A diet high in fiber can also lower the chances of having type 2 diabetes.
Lessen the risk of certain cancers
Many research suggests that a high-fiber diet can help in preventing colorectal cancer.
It can also help reduce the risk of having lung, intestinal, prostate, ovarian, and breast cancer.
Lowers blood cholesterol levels
Soluble fiber is known to help lower blood cholesterol levels. This happens when the fiber binds itself to bile salts which are made of cholesterol and take them along when the fiber exits the body. The body then produces more bile salts by using the cholesterol found in the liver and thus lower the blood cholesterol levels.
Promotes heart health
High-fiber intake has been shown to lessen the risk of having a heart disease. It’s also linked to reducing the risk of metabolic syndrome, a combination of risk factors that are known to cause stroke, diabetes, and coronary heart disease.
Improve hair and skin health
Fiber helps in flushing out toxins in your body, improve your health, and the appearance of your hair and skin. It also helps in increasing the absorption of nutrients such as vitamin C, lycopene, and lutein which are vital in the production of collagen. Aside from that, the absorption of antioxidants is also increased. Antioxidants are known for preventing and reducing aging caused by oxidative stress.
Having a diet high in fiber helps in making you feel full longer, this prevents hunger pangs and overeating that could lead to weight gain. Fiber can also make you lose your appetite and help you in losing weight.
Great for pregnant women
It’s important for pregnant women to have an adequate intake of fiber in their diet. With fiber making you feel full with just a few calories, pregnant women can control their pregnancy weight gains, it helps in battling constipation, lessens the risk of preeclampsia by lowering blood pressure, and helps prevent gestational diabetes by regulating blood sugar.
Feeds “good” gut bacteria
There are around 500 different species of bacteria living in the intestine and they are known as gut flora. Some of these bacteria are essential to different facets of your health such as immune function, brain function, blood sugar control, and weight control. Since fiber can’t be absorbed in the bloodstream, fiber then makes its way to the large intestine where these bacteria digest them thereby promoting the growth of “good” gut bacteria.
Helps you live longer
With all of the benefits of adding fiber to your diet, from promoting digestive health to feeding “good” gut bacteria, fiber will surely help you live a healthy happy long life!