...in your diet right away. Especially if you want to lose weight. Replace any unhealthy foods or junk food habits you might have with fiber.
If you’re struggling with weight gain...this article is for you. Especially if you are thinking about going on a hormone replacement therapy program and thinking about your diet.
If you’re struggling with constipation...this article is for you.
If you’re struggling with diarrhea...this article is for you.
If you’re struggling with high cholesterol...this article is for you.
If there’s a history of cancer in your family...this article is for you.
Lastly, if you’re struggling with blood sugar control...this article is for you.
If you can’t tell, fiber is an extremely important component of a healthy diet. If you do not get enough, it will cause problems in multiple areas of your life. Not to mention, getting enough might just help you live longer! Let us explore what fiber is and why you need more of it, NOW.
The Different Types of Fiber
Dietary fiber can also be called roughage or bulk because it’s the parts of plants that we eat that cannot be digested or absorbed by the human body.
It will pass through your system almost the same as it went in – through the stomach, intestines, colon, and out of your body as waste.
This is unlike the other parts of plants, or other foods, that we do absorb: fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. These are broken down into smaller components so we can absorb them and use them as fuel.
Fiber is classified as either soluble or insoluble.
Soluble fiber: Found in peas, beans, apples, carrots, oats, and citrus fruits, this type of fiber will form a gel-like material in your digestive system because it is able to dissolve in water. It's thought that it helps to lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels.
Insoluble fiber: Found in wheat bran, beans, vegetables (potatoes, green beans, cauliflower), nuts, and whole-wheat flour, this type of fiber helps the material move through your digestive tract while increasing stool bulk. Insoluble fiber will help people with both constipation and irregular stools.
Health Benefits of Fiber
If you increase your fiber intake, you’ll start seeing some great changes in your digestion and overall health. These benefits include:
- Normalized bowel movements: This will be one of the first things you notice. Ahhh finally things are starting to feel better. As stated previously, fiber increases stool bulk and softens it so that it is easier to pass. When the stool is hard to pass, it’s called constipation. Definitely not fun. If you have the opposite problem, fiber will fix this too. With loose, watery stools, fiber will help to solidify it by absorbing water and adding bulk to the stool.
- Maintenance of bowel health: With your digestion running more smoothly, there will be less issues in the digestive tract and this is what we want. There is a much lower chance of getting hemorrhoids or diverticulitis (small pouches in the colon). In addition, there is a lowered risk of colorectal cancer.
- Controlled blood sugar: If you are diabetic or pre-diabetic, it is in your best interest to increase the amount of fiber in your diet. Soluble fiber, in particular, will help to slow the absorption of sugar in the bloodstream and control blood sugar levels. When insoluble fiber is also added, the risk of developing type 2 diabetes is lowered.
- Lower cholesterol levels: By increasing your soluble fiber intake, total blood cholesterol levels may be lowered. The soluble fiber found in oats, flaxseeds, beans, and oat bran helps to lower LDL cholesterol, the one everyone should be looking to lower. In addition, high-fiber foods have also been shown to help reduce blood pressure and inflammation – heart health-boosting effects.
- Achieve a healthy weight: Gaining weight is usually attributed to the consumption of too many calories versus the calories you are burning throughout the day. With high-fiber foods, you will fill yourself up more and you’ll be less likely to overeat and will stay satiated for a longer period of time. In addition, high-fiber foods usually take longer to eat (more chewing) and have fewer calories for the same volume of food: your stomach will tell you that you are full based on volume, but you’ll be consuming fewer calories than usual. This is a weight loss aid.
- Improves longevity: Eating a lot of high-fiber foods, especially cereal fiber, is associated with a lowered risk of developing cardiovascular disease and all cancers. This is great news because increasing your amount of high-fiber foods is super easy!!
All you have to do is eat more fruits and vegetables. Include these in your snack choices: fresh fruit, raw veggies, whole-grain crackers, etc.
Try adding some legumes to a few of your meals, such as beans or lentils. Add beans to your canned soup or salad.
Substitute your refined grains with whole grains: whole-wheat bread, whole-wheat flour, brown rice, barley, etc. For breakfast, choose a high-fiber cereal or get a few tablespoons of unprocessed wheat bran in there. Follow these tips and you’ll be on your way to better digestive health and increased longevity!!
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