The Importance of Dietary Fiber

You’ve heard of fiber before, but you might wonder what is it exactly, why do I need it, and where do I get it from?

The following is provided by the Mayo Clinic in response:

“Dietary fiber, also known as roughage or bulk, includes the parts of plant foods your body can’t digest or absorb.

Unlike other food components, such as fats, proteins or carbohydrates — which your body breaks down and absorbs — fiber isn’t digested by your body. Instead, it passes relatively intact through your stomach, small intestine and colon and out of your body.

Fiber is commonly classified as soluble, which dissolves in water, or insoluble, which doesn’t dissolve.

Soluble fiber dissolves in water to form a gel-like material. It can help lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels. Soluble fiber is found in oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, barley, and psyllium.

Insoluble fiber promotes the movement of material through your digestive system and increases stool bulk, so it can be of benefit to those who struggle with constipation or irregular stools. Whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts, beans and vegetables, such as cauliflower, green beans and potatoes, are good sources of insoluble fiber.”

A few other facts about fiber:

– Fiber is important for the health of the digestive system and for lowering cholesterol.
– Fiber helps reduce your risk of a stroke. Intaking just 7 grams a day can lead to a 7% decrease in risk of stroke.
– A high-fiber diet appears to reduce the risk of developing various conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, diverticular disease, constipation and colon cancer.
– Diets low in fiber (or high in fat) increase the risk for constipation, diverticular disease, and hemorrhoids.
– Fiber lowers inflammation in the body.
– Lower intake of fiber in children is associated with carotid artery stiffness in adulthood. (Source)

Total dietary fiber intake should be 25 grams a day based on a 2,000 calorie diet, according to the FDA. Currently, dietary fiber intake among adults in the United States average about 15 grams a day.

While most plant-based foods contain both soluble and insoluble fiber, the amount of each type varies. Because of this, eating a wide variety of high-fiber foods is advised for optimal health benefits. Eating Well has tons of recipes for you to try out, check out their High-Fiber Whole Grain Recipes.

For more information, check out relevant links below:

The 16 Most Surprising High-Fiber Foods

What Your Poop and Pee Is Telling You About Your Body

Fiber-Famished Gut Microbes Linked To Poor Health

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