Adding fiber to your daily diet is one of the best things you can do to get healthy, prevent disease and even control your weight.
Research Suggests that the typically low-fiber Western diet may be contributing to widespread illnesses such as coronary artery disease, diabetes, and various diseases of the large intestine, including cancer. So, it’s vitally important to take action to ensure you’re informed and taking care of yourself.
Dietary fiber – or roughage – is essentially the indigestible component of plant foods, and its positive effects have been known for centuries. It falls into two broad categories, soluble and insoluble, and most plants contain both kinds, although some are richer in one category than the other.
Soluble fiber is found in plant matter that dissolves in water and becomes sticky, such as lentils, legumes, oat bran, oatmeal, barley, and pectin-rich fruit such as apples, pears, strawberries, and citrus fruit. Insoluble fiber does not disslove and passes through the digestive tract largely unchanged. It’s found in wholegrain products such as brown rice, and fruit and vegetables like carrot, broccoli, and peas.
How much is too much?
It’s great to up your fiber intake – but to do it gradually, since a rapid fiber spike in your diet can lead to unpleasant side effects such as bloating and flatulence.
Consuming sudden large amounts of fiber can also provoke abdominal cramps or even bowel obstruction, particularly among older or sedentary people who already have a sluggish bowel function.
Most importantly, remember that it’s far better to consume fiber by eating real food, rather than pills. Supplements lack the fantastic nutrients and substances found naturally in high-fiber foods which provide most of the benefits. So eat up!
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How does the fiber work its magic?
This may be an unappetizing thought, but grasping how fiber works internally is vital. Ingested fiber acts as an in-house broom or sponge, absorbing many times its own weight in liquid as it passes through the digestive tract. The result is softer and bulkier stools that pass through the intestine more rapidly and are expelled more easily, lowering the likelihood of constipation.
This quick passage through the intestine also helps prevent related bowel disorders – such as diverticulosis and hemorrhoids – which can occur from the increased pressure created by hard stool. It can even help lower the risk of bowel cancer (from reduced contact of stools with cancer-causing agents in the intestine), coronary artery disease (via the lowering of blood cholesterol levels), and heart attacks due to atherosclerosis (the build-up of fatty plaque in the arteries).
Some soluble fibers are even effective against diabetes, although insoluble fibers have little or no effect. Of course, upping fiber intake won’t cure diabetes, but a diet that’s high in complex carbohydrates and fiber can certainly assist diabetics in better managing their blood sugar levels.
Trying to drop a few unwanted kilos? Adding fiber to your diet may be the best move you ever make. Besides providing a welcome feeling of fullness, the best way to use fiber for weight loss is to maintain a balanced diet that includes modest amounts of protein and fat. The body metabolizes these are more slowly than fiber, so you won’t get hungry again quite as quickly. Easy and healthy!
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Good Dietary Sources.
Most dietary fiber comes from wholegrain cereals, grain, fruit, vegetable, dried beans, nuts, seeds, peas, and other legumes. The outer layer of a grain, which contains the most fiber, is removed in the refining process. This is why whole-grain foods like brown rice and wholemeal bread are such great sources of fiber – and why over-processed white bread and rice aren’t!
Benefits of fiber
- Helps prevent constipation
- Useful to help control
- Helps reduce the risk of bowel cancer
- Relieves the symptoms of hemorrhoids and diverticulosis
- Soluble fiber plays a role in lowering elevated blood cholesterol levels.
What Has More Than 5 Grams Of Fibre?
- 1/2 cup of baked beans
- 3/4 cup cooked lentils
- 1/2 cup unprocessed bran
- 1/2 cup almonds
- 10 dates
- 1/2 cup blackberries
- 1 pear
- 5 prunes
- 1/2 cup raspberries
- 1/2 cup green peas
Easy Way To Eat More Roughage.
According to Bowel Cancer Australia, the average person has just 10-12g of fiber daily, whereas we should be eating at least 30g. Here are some painless ways to easily increase your intake:
- Switch to wholegrain cereals and bread, wholemeal pasta, and brown rice.
- Eat at least two fruit and five vegs serving daily, leaving skins on when possible.
- Aim for 10g at breakfast, one of the best fiber opportunities of the day, by eating fiber-rich cereal, wholegrain toast, and fresh or dried fruit.
- Snack on high-fiber fruit (pears, berries, apples) and dried fruit (prunes, apricots).
- Serve veggies raw or steamed, and choose high-fiber types like corn, peas, potatoes (with skin on), sweet potatoes, broccoli, Brussels, sprouts, and turnips.
- Experiment by cooking with bulgur or barley and other high-fiber grains.
- Add extra wheat germ or bran to muffins, pancakes, and cakes, or to breadcrumbs when creating a crispy coating for meat.
- Eat more legumes – try lentil soups, stews and casseroles.
- Lunch on beans. Eat one cup of baked beans (containing 9g of fiber) with one slice of wholemeal bread (another 3g), and you’re a third of the way to your recommended daily intake.
- Eat more salads with nuts, seeds or kidney beans added.