The benefits of a high-fiber diet

When you think of high-fiber foods, your mind probably automatically moves to foods that are brown and resemble wood or tree bark. The importance of a high-fiber diet is being thrown at us from everywhere and when you look at the newer options for increasing your fiber intake, that vision of chewing tree bark can definitely be cast aside.

Fiber is an important nutrient found in some carbohydrates. It plays several important roles in our diet but is unfortunately often under-consumed by adult Americans. Depending on where you look, adults are supposed to be getting between 25 and 35 grams of dietary fiber every single day. The vast majority of us are getting far less. I challenge you to track your fiber intake on an average day and see how you measure up.

Many people think of fiber or “roughage” and are discouraged by thoughts of digestive distress and bloating. While high-fiber foods can cause negative side effects in the body, these effects are dramatically decreased as the body adjusts to regular consumption of fiber at these levels.

There are two kinds of fiber that we should be getting, soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber forms a gel like substance when it comes in contact with water. It can be found in abundance in foods like apples, psylium, and oats and may help to reduce cholesterol and glucose levels. Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, improves digestive movement. It aids digestion and can increase movement through your body. It promotes stool bulk and is found in whole wheat, bran, nuts, and seeds.

There are several reasons you may want to rethink your fiber levels. The most popular reason being, it can aid in weight loss. As revealed at MedicineNet.com, there have been several studies linking high-fiber intake with a lower body weight. This is due, in part, to fiber’s ability to fill you up. A diet high in fiber moves more slowly through the intestines, resulting in feelings of fullness that last. This may encourage reduced calorie consumption. In addition, soluble fiber may prevent some calories from being absorbed by the body, further enhancing the potential for a caloric deficit.

In addition to weight management, fiber has been shown to assist in the management of blood sugar levels among diabetics, lower cholesterol, and decrease digestive ailments like constipation, hemorrhoids, and irritable bowel syndrome. Lastly, there is some evidence emerging that fiber can actually reduce your chances of developing colon cancer.

Finding ways to incorporate more fiber in your diet doesn’t have to be difficult. There are more and more choices everyday of foods with increased fiber content. Read labels and be conscious of what you are buying. Try this tool called the Fiber-o-Meter from WebMd to generate meal ideas and find the fiber content of common foods.

Fiber doesn’t have to be something you stir into a glass. Many new products offer high fiber options with much better taste. Remember to go slow when adding fiber, however, to avoid those well-known side effects and to allow your body a gradual adjustment period.

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