The Importance of Fiber
You’ve probably heard it before, “eat more fiber”, but do you know WHY fiber is so good for you? Dietary fiber is probably best known for its ability to prevent constipation. However, fiber provides so many more health benefits including; preventing conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity. Fiber also aids in weight loss by making you feel full so you may eat fewer calories during the day.
What Exactly Is Fiber?
Dietary fiber includes all parts of plant foods that your body cannot digest or absorb. All dietary fibers are either soluble or insoluble. Soluble fiber dissolves in water to form a gel-like material. It can help lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels. Good sources of soluble fiber include oats, citrus fruits, apples, beans and vegetables. Insoluble fiber promotes the movement of material through your digestive system. Good sources of Insoluble fiber include wheat bran, whole-wheat products and vegetables.
How Much Dietary Fiber Do You Need?
Try to get between 20-35 grams of fiber each day; most Americans only get about half that amount in their diet. To make sure you are getting both soluble and insoluble fiber, eat a variety of foods each day, including fruits, vegetables, dried beans and whole grain products.
Tips To Increase Your Fiber Intake
1. Read food labels, look for the word “whole” before any grains on the ingredient list, and check the number of grams of dietary fiber on the nutrition label.
2. Start your day with a bowl of bran or other high-fiber cereal with 5 grams or more of fiber a serving.
3. Try to eat vegetables with your lunch and dinner.
4. Bring some fruit and vegetables to work with you to snack on during the day.
5. Fiber supplements like Metamucil and Benefiber can also help you meet your fiber needs for the day.
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