Dietary fiber is also commonly known as roughage or bulk. Food components like protein, carbohydrates, and fats digest quickly. However, fiber consists of the parts of plants that our body can't digest. It passes through our stomach, small intestine, colon, and eventually out of the body relatively intact.
Dietary fiber is found in fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and can relieve or even prevent constipation. Besides, foods that contain high amounts of fiber have several additional health benefits as well. They help maintain body weight, lower the risk of heart disease, some types of cancer, as well as the risk of diabetes.It isn't challenging to find tasty foods that have high levels of fiber.
Benefits of Fiber
Here is a closer look at some notable benefits of a high-fiber diet:
1. Assists in Maintaining Bowel Health
Following a high-fiber diet can significantly lower the risks of developing small pouches and hemorrhoids in the colon. Several studies have concluded that a high-fiber diet reduces the risk of colorectal cancer as well. A small amount of fiber gets fermented in the colon, and researchers have studied how this plays a role in preventing colon-related diseases.
2. Reduces Cholesterol Levels
The soluble fiber present in oats, oat bran, beans, and flaxseed. It can potentially help to reduce total blood cholesterol levels as it decreases low-density lipoprotein levels. Besides this, studies have also stated that foods with high fiber have several heart-health benefits like reducing inflammation and blood pressure as well.
3. Stabilizes Bowel Movement
Fiber helps to increase the weight and size of stools, reducing the chances of constipation as bulky stool passes quickly. If you have loose stools, fiber can help solidify it as it adds bulk by absorbing water.
4. Improves Blood Sugar Levels
For people suffering from diabetes, fiber (especially soluble fiber) slows the absorption of sugar and improves blood sugar levels as well. Furthermore, following a diet that contains insoluble fiber can potentially lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
5. Helps Achieve Healthy Weight
Foods that are high in fiber generally make you feel fuller than low-fiber foods. So, you can eat less, yet remain satiated for longer. High-fiber foods take longer to consume, and they're less "energy-dense." It means these foods contain fewer calories for the same overall volume.
6. Helps You Live Longer
Several studies have stated that by increasing your daily fiber intake, especially fiber from cereals, you reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases and all types of cancers as well.
You might want to consider increasing your daily intake of fiber if you aren't getting enough.
Here are some foods with high fiber content:
- Nuts and seeds
- Whole-grain products
- Beans, peas, and legumes
Try to stay away from refined foods like canned vegetables and fruits, pasta, white beans, pulp-free juices, as well as non-whole-grain cereals. These are deficient in fiber because the refining process used, removes the bran from the grain. Most of the B vitamins and iron that are lost during this process are re-added to the foods later. However, no fiber gets added to processed foods.
A Word Of Caution
While high-fiber foods are incredibly beneficial to your health, consuming excessive amounts can result in intestinal gas, cramping, as well as bloating. You should increase the fiber in your diet gradually, as it lets the natural bacteria in the body adjust to the change.
Furthermore, consume plenty of water as fiber works at its best when it absorbs water. Be consistent with your fiber consumption, and it will show lasting results.