While I’m sure you’ve heard that fiber is an important component of a healthy diet, you probably don’t know much about the health benefits of a high fiber diet — like the DASH diet.
What’s so special about fiber, and why are you probably not eating enough of it?
Dietary fiber is the part of plant foods that your body can’t digest.
Though it’s technically a carbohydrate, fiber is not converted to quick-energy sugars the same way starchy and sugary carbohydrates are. It passes through the body instead.
There are 2 types of dietary fiber:
- Soluble fiber dissolves into a gel-like substance in water.
- Insoluble fiber doesn’t dissolve in water.
These 2 kinds of fiber play different and important roles in the health of your body.
Soluble Fiber vs. Insoluble Fiber
When soluble fiber’s helpful bacteria are well-fed and flourishing, they benefit you in return by:
- Reducing inflammation in your gut.
- Improving symptoms of Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Insoluble fiber has the equally important effect of keeping your bowels healthy.
Though it’s not a popular topic of conversation, anyone who’s experienced the discomfort of constipation knows that bowel health is important to your overall well-being.
Insoluble fiber also:
- Keeps you regular and prevents constipation.
- Decreases your risk of colorectal cancer.
Fiber is great for your digestion, but that’s not all it does. Here are 4 reasons to eat a high fiber diet:
#1 – Reduces Mood Swings & Cravings
Eating high fiber foods keeps your blood sugar stable — unlike low-fiber starchy or sugary foods, which tend to spike your blood sugar.
The simple sugars that are in everyday foods such as fruit juice, syrup, and jams can cause your blood sugar to go up and down like a roller-coaster therefore affecting your mood.
#2 – Reduces Cholesterol & Glucose Levels
High fiber foods keep your cardiovascular system healthy — which reduces your risk of hypertension and stroke.
Eating a diet based on fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fish, and lean poultry and meat keeps your heart healthy.
#3 – Fills You Up & Keeps You Feeling Full
Fiber-rich foods have a high water content and are bulky and nutrient-dense, so they take up a lot of room in your stomach without providing a lot of calories.
This is great news if you’re trying to control your weight, or if you tend to suffer mid-morning or mid-afternoon hunger pangs.
#4 – Your Diet Is Healthier Overall
Because high fiber foods are plant-based and are often less processed than foods without much fiber, introducing more of them to your diet tends to make your overall diet healthier as well.
How Much Fiber To Eat
So how much fiber should you be eating to get all of these benefits?
In general, according to the Institute of Medicine:
- Men should consume between 35 and 40 grams of fiber a day.
- Women should aim for about 25 grams of fiber a day.
Considering that on average, we eat only about 15 grams a day, you have plenty of room for improvement when it comes to fiber intake.
High Fiber Foods
Need some inspiration for how to add more fiber to your diet?
Here are some fiber rich foods you can easily add to your diet:
- Beans, lentils, and peas are rich in fiber, high in protein, and are fat-free.
- Broccoli, artichokes, and Brussels sprouts are some of the best picks for high-fiber veggies.
- Berries and apples are good fruit choices.
- Whole grains like oats, brown rice, and even air-popped popcorn also provide a healthy dose of fiber.
Helpful Resources For High Fiber Dieters
- High Fiber Diet Supplements
- What To Eat If You Have Ulcerative Colitis
- Fiber Rich Foods To Avoid
- Soluble vs. Insoluble Fiber Foods For IBS
- The Right Fiber To Eat For Weight Loss
- When & Why To Use Fiber Supplements
- 9 Health Benefits Of Fiber