Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are standard components of a healthy diet. Aside from being low in fat and loaded with nutrients, they are also excellent sources of fiber. Most people are aware of the benefit of getting vitamins from fruits and veggies, but not everyone fully understands how dietary fiber works for the body. Let us explore the ups and downs of having fiber in your diet and discover how it can be used for better health.
Fiber is a carbohydrate that cannot be digested or absorbed in the small intestine. It is known for improving bowel movement and preventing constipation. There are two types of fiber, soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber can be dissolved by water and forms a gel like substance that promotes digestive health. Insoluble fiber doesn’t dissolve in water and comes out of the body fairly intact.
Knowing the amount and type of fiber in your diet can help improve health management. Weight watchers usually opt for food with soluble fiber such as carrots, cucumber, strawberry, orange, nuts, beans, and oatmeal. These food items make you feel full thus, reducing one’s tendency to overeat. People who are watching their blood sugar and cholesterol levels can also benefit from including soluble fiber in their diet. It can help decrease levels of low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol otherwise known as the bad cholesterol. This means better health for your heart. Soluble fibers are also known to lower blood sugar levels and improve glycemic control.
Insoluble fiber in your diet promotes digestive health by adding bulk and softening stool. This can help people suffering from constipation as well as those with watery stool. The added bulk makes bowel movement easier and the fiber’s ability to absorb water can help address watery stool. Aside from constipation, insoluble fiber can also lessen the risk for hemorrhoids, diverticular disease, and colo-rectal cancer. Whole grain, brown rice, raisins, and dark leafy vegetables are good sources of insoluble fiber. Soluble and insoluble fibers have their respective health benefits for the body. There is no need to be particular about the type of fiber in your food unless you have a health goal that you want to achieve.
The low fat, low calorie and high nutrient value of a high-fiber diet makes it an attractive option for health buffs. However, one should also be aware of the downside in having too much fiber too soon. Adding a lot of fiber in your diet quickly can lead to tummy aches due to gas, bloating or abdominal cramps. Add more fiber in your diet gradually to avoid experiencing its downside. Get your daily dose of fiber from a variety of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and grains to enjoy your healthy meals.