You’ve probably been told countless times, “Be sure to eat enough fiber!” And while you may try do follow this advice, you might not know exactly why fiber is so good for you and why it’s important that you eat enough.
What Exactly is Dietary Fiber?
Dietary fiber is primarily found in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. Fiber is the “stuff” the plant is made of that your body cannot digest or absorb. Because of this, fiber is allowed to pass through your digestive tract relatively intact.
Fiber is classified as either soluble or insoluble.
Soluble fiber is water-soluble, meaning it will dissolve in water. This type of fiber is great for lowering cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Soluble fiber is found in beans, peas, oats, and citrus fruits.
Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water and remains bulky. This is often recommended to increase stool bulk to help with constipation. Excellent sources of insoluble fiber can be found in wheat bran, potatoes, beans, and nuts.
Benefits of a High Fiber Diet
Here are just some of the reasons you will want to be sure you get enough fiber into your diet.
Better Bowel Movements
Dietary fiber, in particular insoluble fiber, increases the weight of your stools and helps you to go. If you have trouble in the bathroom, you’ll definitely want to up your fiber intake.
Lowers Your Risk of Colon Cancer
Studies have shown that people who consume the most fiber have a lower risk of developing colon cancer. In addition, increased fiber intake can help you decrease the chances of getting hemorrhoids.
Helps Lower Bad Cholesterol
Soluble fiber is great for lowering cholesterol levels. A high-fiber diet may help your heart by lowering blood pressure and inflammation.
Maintain Healthy Blood Sugar
Diabetics can help control blood sugar by eating foods that contain more soluble fiber like beans, oats and peas.
Helps Maintain a Healthy Weight
Since high-fiber foods tend to be bulky and more filling, they keep you feeling fuller longer so you eat less.
To reap these health benefits, be sure to add the following to your diet:
- Whole-grain products
- Beans, peas and other legumes
- Nuts and seeds
It’s true, fiber really is important for good health. So be sure you get enough each day!