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:
These 2 kinds of fiber play different and important roles in the health of your body.
When soluble fiber’s helpful bacteria are well-fed and flourishing, they benefit you in return by:
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:
Fiber is great for your digestion, but that’s not all it does. Here are 4 reasons to eat a high fiber diet:
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.
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.
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.
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.
So how much fiber should you be eating to get all of these benefits?
In general, according to the Institute of Medicine:
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.
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:
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