Dietary fibers , which are mainly found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes, are probably best known for their ability to prevent or relieve constipation. But foods containing fiber may also provide other health benefits, such as helping maintain a healthy weight and lowering the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer.
It is not difficult to choose tasty foods that contain fiber. Here is how much dietary fiber you need, what foods contain it and how to add it to meals and snacks.
What is dietary fiber?
Dietary fiber includes the parts of plant foods that your body cannot digest or absorb. Unlike other food components, such as fat, protein, or carbohydrates, which your body breaks down and absorbs, fiber is not digested by your body. Rather, they pass relatively intact through your stomach, small intestine, and colon and exit your body.
Two types of fiber
fibers are generally classified as soluble, i.e. they dissolve in water, or insoluble, i.e. they do not dissolve.
1) Soluble fibers: This type of fiber dissolves in water to form a gel-like material. They can help lower cholesterol and glucose levels in the blood. Soluble fiber is found in oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, barley and psyllium.
2) Insoluble fibers: This type of fiber promotes the circulation of materials in the digestive system and increases the volume of stools. They can therefore be useful for those struggling with constipation or irregular bowel movements. Whole wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts, beans, and vegetables, such as cauliflower, green beans, and potatoes, are good sources of fiber insoluble.
The amount of soluble and insoluble fiber varies according to the foods of plant origin. For the best health results, one should eat a wide variety of foods high in fiber.
Health Benefits of a diet rich in fiber
A diet rich in fiber:
1) Normalizes stools: dietary fiber increases the weight and size of your stools and softens them. Bulky stools are easier to pass, which reduces the risk of constipation. If you have loose, watery stools, the fibers can help solidify them as they absorb water and add bulk to the stool.
2) Helps Maintain Gut Health: A diet high in fiber may reduce the risk of developing hemorrhoids and small pockets in the colon (diverticula). Studies have also shown that a diet high in fiber likely reduces the risk of colorectal cancer. Some of the fiber is fermented in the colon. Researchers are studying how this may play a role in preventing colon disease.
3) Lowering cholesterol: Soluble fiber found in beans, oats, seeds Flaxseed and oat bran can help lower total cholesterol in the blood by lowering the level of low density lipoprotein, or “bad” cholesterol. Studies have also shown that foods rich in fiber may have other benefits for the heart, such as reduced blood pressure and inflammation.
4) Helps control blood sugar levels: In people with diabetes, fibers, in particular fibers soluble, may slow sugar absorption and help improve blood sugar levels. A healthy diet containing insoluble fiber may also reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
5) Helps achieve a healthy weight : Foods high in fiber tend to be more nutritious than foods low in fiber, so you will tend to eat less and stay full for longer. And foods high in fiber tend to take longer to eat and be less “energy dense”, which means they contain fewer calories for the same amount.
6) They help you live longer: Studies suggest that increasing your intake of dietary fiber , particularly of fiber from cereals, is associated with a reduced risk of dying from cardiovascular disease and all cancers.
How much fiber do you need?
Daily recommendations for adults
Men: 29 grams
Women: 25 grams
Your best fiber choices
If you are not getting enough fiber each day, you may need to increase your intake. Good choices include
- Products made from whole grains
- Fruits and vegetables
- Beans, peas and other legumes
- Nuts and seeds
Refined or processed foods, such as canned fruits and vegetables, juice without pulp, white breads and pastas, and non-whole grain cereals are less rich in fiber. The grain refining process removes the outer layer (bran) of the grain, which reduces its fiber content. Fortified foods are fortified with B vitamins and iron after processing, but not fiber.
Tips to easily increase your fiber intake:
Need some ideas for adding more fiber to your meals and snacks? Try these suggestions:
– Start your day. For breakfast, choose cereals high in fiber, 5 grams of fiber or more per serving. Choose cereals whose name includes the terms “ whole grains”, “bran” or “ fiber “. Or add a few tablespoons of unprocessed wheat bran to your favorite cereal.
– Switch to whole grains. Consume at least half of all grains as whole grains. Look for breads where the first ingredient on the label is whole wheat, whole wheat flour, or other whole grain, and that contain at least 2 grams of dietary fiber per serving. Try brown rice, wild rice, barley, wholemeal pasta and bulgur.
– Make loose baked goods. Replace half or all of the white flour with wholemeal flour when baking. Try adding mashed bran cereal, unprocessed wheat bran to cakes and cookies.
– Rely on legumes. Beans, peas and lentils are great sources of fiber. Add kidney beans to soup or green salad.
– Eat more fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are rich in fiber , as well as vitamins and minerals. Try to eat five or more servings a day.
– Make snacks count. Fresh fruits, raw vegetables, and whole grain cookies are all good choices. A handful of nuts or dried fruit is also a healthy snack that is high in fiber , but be aware that nuts and dried fruit are high in calories.
Foods rich in fiber are good for your health. But adding too much fiber too quickly can lead to gas, abdominal bloating, and cramps. Gradually increase the amount of fiber in your diet over a few weeks. This allows the natural bacteria in your digestive system to adapt to the change.
Drink plenty of water as well. fiber works best when it absorbs water, making your stools soft and bulky.
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