Why is fiber so good for your health?
Found mainly in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes, dietary fiber is best known for its ability to prevent or relieve constipation. Fiber can provide other benefits as well – such as maintaining a healthy weight and lowering your risk for diabetes and heart disease.
It isn’t difficult to find foods with fiber…
Dietary fiber is indigestible and passes relatively intact through your body. There are two classes of fiber – soluble and insoluble.
Soluble Fiber dissolves in water and forms into a gel-like material. This can help lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels. It is found in oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, barley and psyllium.
Insoluble Fiber promotes the movement of material through the digestive system, increasing stool bulk. This is of benefit to those who struggle with constipation and irregularity. Whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts, beans and vegetables are good sources of insoluble fiber.
There are several benefits of a high-fiber diet:
- Normalized bowel movements
- Bowel health maintenance
- Lower cholesterol levels
- Helps to control blood sugar levels
- Helps to achieve healthy weight
Increasing fiber intake has been one of the TWO dietary modifications that I have made to help achieve a healthy weight. My chosen source of fiber has been psyllium husks. I have been taking one heaping tablespoon of psyllium husks mixed in water shortly after my first meal of the day. It needs to be drank very quickly before it thickens into gel-form. Capsules are also available if drinking the fiber proves difficult.
My observations after taking psyllium husks for the past few months have included:
- My appetite has leveled out throughout the day, I feel satisfied with no hunger
- Increased regularity in bowel movements
- I have increased water intake with ease
- Weight loss
- My energy and focus has remained consistent through the day, I am not experiencing “crashes”
There are other ways to increasing fiber:
- Jump-start your day with a high-fiber breakfast cereal (I have been having a small serving of All-Bran each morning … followed by my Psyllium Husks approximately 90 minutes later
- Switch to whole grains
- Bulk up baked goods by substituting whole grain flour, adding crushed bran cereal, unprocessed wheat bran or uncooked oatmeal to muffins, cakes and cookies
- Increase legumes – beans, peas and lentils are excellent fiber sources. Kidney beans can be added to canned soup or a green salad. Nachos can be made with refried beans, lots of fresh veggies, and whole wheat tortilla chips
- Eat more fruits and vegies
- Snack on fresh fruits, raw vegetables, low-fat popcorn and whole grain crackers. Nuts or dried fruits are also healthy and high-fiber snacks
Be sure to increase your fiber at a reasonable pace to avoid intestinal gas, abdominal bloating and cramping. Let this happen gradually over the course of a few weeks. This will allow the natural bacteria in your digestive system to adjust to the change. And don’t forget to drink lots of water!