Fiber

Fiber- Nutritional Importance, Types, Benefits, And Food Sources

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What if there was one magic pill that could boost your metabolism, increase your lifespan, help you feel full, clear up your complexion, control your cholesterol, and reduce your risk for cancer, diabetes, and heart disease? OK, there’s not a pill, but there is a single ingredient: fiber.

“Always focus on eating more fiber”. You’ve probably heard this more times than you can recall. So we automatically assume that it must be really good for us. The only problem is that fiber and flavor are exactly like opposites.

And for most of us, the flavor is the foundation in terms of food choice. However, the reality is that it can have flavor too, along with great medicinal effects that you may not even know about.

Effects like potentially help to reduce and prevent common diseases.

 

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What Is Fiber?

vegetables, broccoli, diet

It is a plant-based and an essential nutrient. It is a kind of carbohydrate but, unlike other carbs, it cannot be broken down into digestible sugar molecules. Therefore, it passes through the intestinal tract relatively intact. However, on its journey, it does a lot of work.

The term “fiber” refers to the indigestible parts of plant-based foods. In other contexts, it might refer to plant-based cloth, but when speaking of nutrition, the terms “fiber” and “dietary fiber” are often interchangeable.

Some fibers are soluble in water and others are insoluble. Soluble fiber slows digestion and helps you absorb nutrients from food. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to your stool, helping the stool pass more quickly through the intestines.

Fiber is mostly in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes. There are two types of fiber — soluble and insoluble — and both play important roles in health:

  • Insoluble does not dissolve in water and adds bulk to the stool, preventing constipation.
  • Soluble absorbs water, forming a gel-like substance in the digestive system. Soluble fiber may help lower cholesterol levels and help regulate blood sugar levels.

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Types

Some fibers are soluble in water and others are insoluble. Soluble fiber slows digestion and helps you absorb nutrients from food. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to your stool, helping the stool pass more quickly through the intestines.

Most plant foods contain some of each kind of it. Foods with high levels of soluble fiber include dried beans, oats, oat bran, rice bran, barley, citrus fruits, apples, strawberries, peas, and potatoes.

Foods high in insoluble fiber include wheat bran, whole grains, cereals, seeds, and the skins of many fruits and vegetables.

  • Insoluble Fiber

It is the type of fiber that repels water. You can find it in foods such as veggies, fruits, nuts and seeds, wheat bran, and whole-grain foods like whole-wheat pasta and brown rice. Its primary benefit is to provide bulk to stool and aid in the movement through the digestive tract.

Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, speeds up the passage of food through the digestive system. This helps maintain regularity and prevent constipation. It also increases fecal bulk, which makes stools easier to pass.

Good sources include:

  • Fruits
  • Nuts
  • Vegetables
  • Whole-grain foods
  • Soluble Fiber

Soluble fiber is a type of fiber that attracts water and forms a gel. This gel causes a slowing of the digestion process, which can be beneficial for weight loss. Foods high in soluble ones include oats, legumes, edible plant skins, and nuts.

Both soluble and insoluble fibers have important benefits. It is known to help decrease blood glucose (blood sugar) levels. It also helps lower blood cholesterol.

Good sources include:

  • Beans
  • Fruits
  • Oats
  • Nuts
  • Vegetables

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Benefits Of Fiber

  • Digestion: This is, by all means, the best-known benefit. Bulkier, softer stools are easier to pass than hard or watery ones, which not only makes life more comfortable but also helps maintain colorectal health.
  • Heart Health: It also helps lower cholesterol. The digestive process requires bile acids, which are made partly with cholesterol. As your digestion improves, the liver pulls cholesterol from the blood to create more bile acid, thereby reducing the amount of LDL (bad) cholesterol. 
  • Blood Sugar: Increased intake can reduce blood glucose levels during the standard fasting blood glucose test (a test of blood sugar levels after an overnight fast).
  • Weight Loss: Normal-weight and overweight people have been found to have a higher intake than obese individuals. Other studies continue to suggest that high fiber intakes help reduce weight gain as you age.

Best Food Sources Of Fiber

Fiber

Nuts And Seeds

  • Chia Seeds
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Almonds
  • Peanuts

Grains

  • Bran
  • Barley

Vegetables

  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Corns
  • Artichokes

Fruits

  • Apple
  • Raspberries
  • Pears
  • Avocados
  • Blackberries

Grains

  • Split Peas
  • Lima Beans
  • Lentils
  • Black Beans
  • Chickpeas

Extras

  • Prunes
  • Seaweed
  • Whole Wheat Pasta

High Fiber Foods For Weight Loss

Fruits
  • Avocados
  • Apple
  • Blackberries
  • Raspberries
Vegetables
  • Corn
  • French Green Beans
  • Artichokes
  • Brocolli
Nuts And Seeds
  • Nuts
  • Chia Seeds
  • Flax Seeds
Grains
  • Lentils
  • Chickpeas

Tips For Increasing Intake

Fiber

People can boost their daily intake by making a variety of small changes:

  • Having fruits and vegetables with the skins on.
  • Consuming beans or lentils to salads, soups, and side dishes.
  • Replacing white slices of bread and pasta for whole-wheat versions.
  • Aiming to eat 4.5 cups of vegetables and 4.5 cups of fruit each day.

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What Happens When You Consume Too Much?

Eating too much of it can cause bloating, gas, and constipation. These side effects may occur if a person consumes more than 70 g of fiber a day. This is uncommon but may happen if someone is following a vegan, raw, or whole food diet.

Takeaway

Dietary fiber is an essential component of a healthful diet, with reduced risks of many health conditions, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers. It is also important for keeping the gut healthy.

Most people do not meet their adequate daily requirements. People can increase this measure by eating more high fiber foods, fruits, and vegetables with the skins on, or by taking supplements if this is not possible.

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