Increase Fiber For Better Health
Read Time: 3 minutes Fiber is a superfood essential for digestion. Diets with sufficient amounts of fiber keep bowel movements regular and prevent constipation. Fiber is more easily absorbed when combined with a liquid such as water. In addition to moving food through the digestive tract, fiber has other surprising benefits.
What is fiber?
Fiber is the non-digestible part of plants. There are 2 types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and turns into a gel-like substance. Apples, oats, peas, carrots, and beans are examples of soluble fibers. Insoluble fiber is what moves food through the digestive tract. Nuts, whole wheat, beans, and vegetables are examples of insoluble fibers.
Tips for getting more fiber
Getting more fiber can be as simple dietary changes. Swap white and high-processed grains for whole grains. Whole wheat flour, bran, brown or wild rice, barley, and bulgur are good choices. Legumes such as beans and lentils are a great source of fiber. Most fruits and vegetables are high in fiber. Snacking smart is a fantastic way to stay on top of nutrients and promoting overall health. Low-fat popcorn is a healthy snack. Adding too much fiber too soon will increase bloating and cramping. Increased fiber should be added bit by bit over a few weeks.
Benefits of fiber
Fiber has many benefits but is most known for moving food through the digestive tract. Individuals with constipation or poor bowel health would benefit from additional fiber. Fiber lowers cholesterol and supports a healthy weight. Fiber can even benefit diabetics by slowing down the absorption of sugar. Slowing down the absorption of sugar can help balance out blood glucose levels. Before age 50, the recommended daily intake is 38 grams for men and 25 grams for women. After age 50, the recommended intake of fiber is 30 grams for men and 21 grams for women.
The surprise importance of fiber
A relatively unknown benefit is that fiber functions as a prebiotic. Fiber serves as a food source for healthy gut bacteria. Most other nutrients such as proteins and carbohydrates are absorbed before reaching the intestine. Because fiber cannot readily be digested and often passes through without being broken down, fiber is like a feast for gut flora.
Invite fiber to the table
Fiber lowers weight, decreases the chance of diabetes and certain cancers, is good for heart health, and aids in digestion. Fiber even acts as a prebiotic promoting a healthier gut. Many patients complaining of gastrointestinal discomfort could benefit from eating more fiber. People should speak with a healthcare provider regarding fiber intake recommendations and treatment options.