People always say “You need to eat more fiber!” and there is good reason for it. The health benefits that surround the consumption of fiber are innumerable. Without it, the body suffers tremendously, as fiber is essential for a healthy diet. When delving deeper into why fiber is so beneficial for us, it is important to understand what it truly is, what the health benefits are, and which foods are fiber rich.
Looking at a nutrition label, you will probably notice “Dietary Fiber.” In scientific terms, fiber is the part of food that cannot be digested by the body and is just excreted. The two main types of fiber are soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. The difference between the two is that soluble fiber dissolves in water whereas insoluble fiber will not. Soluble fiber lowers cholesterol and glucose levels, while insoluble fiber will assist with preventing constipation.
A proper amount of fiber is crucial for the body to avoid devastating illnesses. For example, the symptoms of constipation are usually associated with lack of fiber intake. Constipation is the inability for someone to pass proper bowel movements, and by increasing dietary fiber intake, bowel movement is significantly improved. Another benefit of fiber consumption is lowering cholesterol levels. Soluble fiber attaches to cholesterol particles and helps prevent heart disease by essentially removing them from the body. Fiber is also associated with weight control, satiating the body longer because fiber-rich foods are “energy dense,” providing the same amount of energy as other foods with fewer calories.
How do we obtain fiber? Well, there are tons of foods that are high in fiber! Usually, any vegetable or fruit you eat will have some form of fiber, though some have more than others. My personal favorites are strawberries because they taste great, and eating just a few can pile up your fiber intake. Spinach is also an extremely good source for fiber and other nutrients as well. Whole-grain and beans/legumes are outstanding sources of fiber content, but can be more calorically dense than fruits and vegetables.
Fiber consumption is definitely a key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Simply eating more fiber rich foods can mitigate a lot of common health problems. There are a wide variety of high fiber foods out there so you are bound to find one that you enjoy!
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