Is Fiber Healthy?
We all hold what we eat as a matter of great importance, it is only natural to pay attention to what keeps us refreshed and nourished. The nutrients derived from our diet are indispensable to our bodies. For every nutrient, there is a function; vitamins and carbs play different roles so that each of them is needed in their varying quantities. This is why it is important to know what a group of nutrients does and what the other groups of nutrients do. Some of us must have heard about dietary fiber a couple of times, but do we really know how important fiber is to our body? What does it do for you in the first place? What is the place of this dietary fiber in our overall health, and how do you get the best out of it? Let’s discuss food and fiber.
What Is Fiber?
Fiber is the indigestible part of the food we eat, and it is mostly derived from plants. It is also referred to as dietary fiber. That fiber is indigestible indicates that it does not metabolize and function the same way other nutrients like vitamins and protein do within our bodies. Dietary fiber has two basic components: the soluble fiber and the insoluble fiber. This means that fiber exists in two different forms. However, some fibers exist as a kind of compound of both soluble and insoluble fibers; they are also known as matrix. Many fibers come in the form of a matrix where both soluble and insoluble fibers are joined, however, one would be far greater than the other.
The soluble fibers are the type of fibers that dissolve in water. Soluble fibers delay the movement of food away from the stomach. This delay keeps the stomach full for some time. Insoluble fibers are the fibers that don’t dissolve in water. Insoluble fibers help to ease the large intestine and bowels in excretion. So, if your body does not have enough fiber, you may be faced with irregular and uncomfortable digestion many times. The soluble and insoluble fibers have a unique way of maintaining a crucial balance in the process of digestion and excretion in your body.
Why Include Fiber in your Diet?
After our initial probe into dietary fiber, we know that it is required in our diet. From our quick understanding, both types of dietary fiber are useful for the proper functioning of the human body — digestion and excretion will become unpleasant experiences for us without them. Dietary fiber is also important for a balance to be maintained in the community of microorganisms present in your gut. Yes, the microbes living in your abdominal region are nourished with the dietary fiber that comes their way, which is then transformed into some short-chain fatty acids. Some of those fatty acids are required for optimal health in parts of your body such as your gut and brain.
Fiber lowers cholesterol levels and, because of its role in the proper digestive and excretive movement, helps to prevent constipation. It keeps blood glucose at normal levels. Food rich in fiber usually has a lower amount of calories and this can prevent obesity. The inclusion of dietary fiber in your diet may help reduce the risk of breast cancer, diabetes and colorectal cancer.
4 Symptoms of Fiber Deficiency
Not having enough fiber in your diet is a real problem, but how do you know if you are getting enough? Dietary fiber makes your body work in a particularly healthier manner. As soon as your body starts to get less fiber than is required, you’re going to experience the following symptoms.
You may suffer constipation frequently. Once you begin to have fewer bowel movements, the fiber content in your body is probably low. Your body should be able to excrete waste no fewer than three times in a week if it’s getting the amount of fiber it needs.
If you are never easily filled after eating, your food may be lacking enough fiber. This can lead to gaining more weight and eating more food than usual.
You may not be getting enough dietary fiber if you feel weak and tired oftentimes, despite eating enough food regularly. To get off that feeling of regular weakness, you might need to boost your fiber intake.
Increased Blood Sugar
If you don`t consume adequate fiber content, you may find it difficult to control your blood sugar levels. This is particularly more challenging for diabetics. To avoid blood sugar issues, you might need to get some more fiber in your system.
Fiber Intake Recommendations
The body of an average adult male requires at least 38 grams of fiber every day, while the body of an average adult female needs 25 grams of fiber.
How do you get the daily required amount of fiber then? Simple. You just need to identify the foods that are rich in fiber and add them to your diet.
10 Top Foods with High Fiber
There are numerous legumes, seeds, fruits, and grains that are rich in fiber content. Here’s a list of some selected foods rich in fiber.
- Chia Seeds
One of the well-known seeds packed with fiber, chia seeds are edible seeds from the chia sage plant. You can choose to add them to some of your meals such as cereals or vegetables.
Like chia seeds, flaxseeds are also edible and go well with some of your dishes for its fiber content.
Almonds are another rich source of fiber. Eating a couple of almond fruit a week is great for your health too.
- Dried Coconut
Coconut is a popular fiber-based food. You can eat dried coconut alone or mix it up with other fruits.
- Sweet Potato
You can easily make a dish of boiled, fried, or baked potatoes every now and then for the fiber found in sweet potatoes.
You can start eating raspberries with their fiber-rich pulp. If you`ve been enjoying raspberries before now, keep consuming them for their dietary fiber.
Some citrus fruits like orange can reward your body with the fiber it needs.
Your favorite snack is also a great source of fiber. When next you are snacking on a bag of popcorn, just know that you are adding to the fiber required by your body.
They are popular for their Vitamin A content, and also contain a considerable amount of fiber. Eat as many carrots as you can.
A few avocados by the main course of your meals in a week can be of great help to your body system too as they`re a rich source of fiber.
There are many other fruits, vegetables, and foods that are sources of fiber. Here are some other foods rich in fiber.
- rye flour
- buckwheat groats
- pumpkin seeds
- Brussels sprouts
- frozen peas
- coconut flour
- frozen cherries
- dried figs
- sunflower seeds
- wheat bran
- steel-cut oats
- tomatoes (sun-dried)
- quinoa seeds
- acorn squash
- kidney beans
- black beans
- frozen lima beans
- frozen and shelled edamame
- split peas
- refried beans
You definitely have a lot of options to pick from this list of high dietary foods. You may be more interested in one group of food than the other, and you might favor one over another, and that’s fine. Besides the delicious quality of the food, you are sure to reach the average fiber requirement for your body now. The metabolic and digestive function of dietary fiber cannot be overemphasized; it brings a much-needed balance to your body and prevents possible discomforts emerging from improper digestion.