Fiber, a type of carbohydrate, is an integral part of your diet that can make you feel full for a longer time and prevent excessive food intake and obesity. It reduces the level of cholesterol in your body and aids in the digestion and absorption of food. Including fiber in your meals can also help in overcoming many medical issues like irritable bowel syndrome, diverticulitis, and constipation. Adequate fiber intake reduces the risk of many diseases like type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, and some types of cancers.
What does fiber really do?
Fiber does not get digested or absorbed by the body but is thrown out intact. It absorbs water and keeps you full longer than processed foods. Remaining full automatically reduces the hunger signals that the body sends your brain. That’s how a high-fiber diet lowers cholesterol, increases the bulk in the stool, and reduces constipation.
There are two types of fibers in foods, soluble fiber, which dissolves in water and forms a gel-like material, and insoluble fiber, which is insoluble in water, thereby increasing the bulk of the stool. Both types are beneficial for your body, and most plant-based foods have a combination of both types of fibers.
Simple steps to increase your fiber intake
The following steps can help you boost your fiber intake on a daily basis and improve your health status:
- Incorporate fiber-containing food like whole-wheat biscuits, whole-wheat grains, and oats in your breakfast.
- Eat plenty of vegetables along with meals either as a part of a salad or side dish or in curries and stews.
- Have a minimum of half a cup of vegetables and two cups of fruits every day. The fruits and vegetables that you can have every day are banana, sweet potato, potato with skin, sweet corn, orange, apple, pear, green peas, figs, and dates. Nothing compares to the health benefits of raw fruits and vegetables, but if eating them raw is difficult, then cooked ones fare better than processed foods that are super low on fiber, typically.
- Eat whole grain bread and cereals instead of refined white bread. Always choose brown rice over white rice. Give preference to foods like 100% whole-wheat bread, almonds, unbuttered popcorn, bran muffins, brown rice, oatmeals, and cooked or dried multiple grain cereals. These choices can be particularly beneficial when you are eating out a lot and don’t get enough time to cook meals at home.
- Keep yourself aware of what you consume by reading the nutrition facts stated on the label. The intake of dietary fiber through one serving should be at least five grams.
Is there a limitation on eating fiber?
The fiber requirement of your body varies with age and gender. The fiber requirement of men and women above 50 years of age is a minimum of 30 and 21 grams, respectively, whereas in those 50 years old and younger, the fiber requirement is 38 and 25 grams, respectively.
An abnormally high fiber content in the diet may cause cramping, bloating, or gas in the stomach. Incorporate these changes slowly and gradually rather than trying to up the intake suddenly one fine day. Ensure that you sip plenty of fluids and try drinking at least eight glasses of water per day. Avoid beverages with high-calorie content.
Incorporating greater amount of fiber in your food will not only just help curb hunger pangs, preventing you from binging on all the snacks, but it will help you lose weight in the next few days. In the long run, it will help lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels that are major risk factors for stroke, heart disease, and cancer. These dietary changes can help you manage high blood pressure and blood sugar levels too.
So don’t wait to hop aboard the fiber wagon! Befriend fiber today.