The Proven Benefits of a Fiber Rich Diet
The Importance of Fiber
Dietary fiber is very important for your overall health. By normalizing your bowel movements it helps keep your body moving waste and toxins out of your system. Eating a diet high in fiber has proven benefits for your heart health and can lower your risk of other diseases as well.
- Soluble fiber can help slow the breakdown of carbohydrates in your system which may help with blood sugar control.
- Studies show that people who have high fiber diets have 40% lower risk of heart disease. Even as little as 7 grams more per day in your diet can reduce your risk of stroke by 7%.
- Eating fiber helps you feel full after meals which can ultimately help you eat less, helping lower your calorie intake and lose weight.
- Added fiber in your diet can improve your skin health. It can help your body rid itself of yeast and fungus which could otherwise manifest as skin breakouts or rashes.
- It can improve your bowel health and reduce your risk of developing diverticulitis (an inflammatory bowel disease) by 40%. It can also help reduce the discomfort of Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
- Fiber can also reduce your risk of developing hemorrhoids by making bowel movements easier and preventing you from straining.
Where Can You Find it?
Many people, when thinking about adding fiber to their diets, just think of the over the counter fiber drinks but it’s really quite easy to add more to your diet just with the foods you chose. For instance, choosing brown rice instead of white rice automatically ups the fiber content as does choosing whole grain breads over white bread.
Fruits and vegetables have a lot of fiber, especially when you eat them with the skins on (apples, pears, etc.) Try adding fresh fruit to your breakfast or replacing dessert with fruit. Throw extra vegetables in your pasta sauce like zucchini or spinach, even broccoli. Instead of an iceberg lettuce salad use romaine, kale, spinach or baby greens mix. Adding extra veggies or even nuts can boost the fiber and flavor! Don’t forget the legumes. Beans, peas and lentils are all high in fiber and can be added to salads, soups, pasta or eaten on their own. Flaxseed is also a great way to add fiber. It can be ground up in a coffee grinder or food processor and added to yogurt, cereal or even in a smoothie. By the way, smoothies are a great way to add fiber to your diet and keeping it mostly vegetables instead of just fruit will help with your blood sugar as well.
Are You Meeting Your Fiber Needs?
How much fiber do you need? For women and children a fiber intake of 21-26 grams per day is optimal while men need 30-36 grams per day. Of course that varies according to size and age. If you find it hard to incorporate enough fiber in your diet, adding a fiber supplement can be helpful. They come in capsules but mostly in powder form that can be added to juice, a smoothie or water. As with any supplement you want to look for one that is all natural and doesn’t contain excess sugars or other unhealthy ingredients. Bear in mind that fiber supplements are good to use to fill in the gaps but won’t provide all the other vitamins, minerals and nutrients that eating a whole food, healthy diet will.