Most people know that fiber is important for digestive health, but many don’t realize just how important it is. Fiber not only helps keep your digestive system running smoothly, but it also has a host of other health benefits.
A high-fiber diet can help protect you against heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer. It can also help you lose weight and maintain a healthy weight.
So how can you make sure you’re getting enough fiber in your diet?
Here are some tips to help you get started.
1. Eat a variety of fiber-rich foods in each meal and snack you eat, such as fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and seeds.
2. Aim for different types of dietary fiber by eating whole foods such as legumes (beans and peas), vegetables (carrots and peppers), and whole grains like brown rice and barley.
3. Buy a variety of fruits and vegetables to prevent boredom with your fiber-rich diet. Check out our easy tips for adding more fruit and veggies to your daily diet.
4. Don’t rely on high-fiber bars as a source of dietary fiber, because they often contain unhealthy ingredients such as added sugars and saturated fat. Instead, choose whole foods that are naturally fiber-rich, including beans and legumes, nuts, seeds, and vegetables.
5. For even more Fiber to your Diet, sprinkle ground flaxseed on cereal or salads or add it to soups or yogurt.
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6. The healthiest way to eat is by following a balanced diet, and this means including a variety of foods from all the food groups. Your best bet is to eat whole foods whenever possible – these foods are naturally rich in fiber and other nutrients.
7. If you decide to take a fiber supplement instead of reaching for whole foods, make sure that the product contains 100% of your required daily intake of fiber.
8. Incorporate high-fiber foods into every meal and snack you eat, including breakfast cereals with higher amounts of fiber, whole wheat bread or oatmeal, fresh fruit salads with bran cereal, whole-grain crackers topped with nut butter, or cheese cubes with dried apricots.
9. Try to eat high-fiber foods that are unprocessed or minimally processed, such as fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables without added sugar. Other healthy choices include 100% whole grains (like brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal), legumes (beans and peas), nuts, seeds and dried fruit.
10. Be careful with how much fiber you eat in one day. While it’s important to get enough fiber daily, eating too much fiber may cause side effects like bloating, cramps or nausea. This will be more likely if you don’t drink enough fluids when consuming high-fiber foods.
Why Fiber is Important for Digestive Health
Fiber is the part of fruits, vegetables, and grains that your body can’t digest. Soluble fiber dissolves in water to form a gel-like material that helps slow digestion and the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. This can help keep hunger at bay between meals and has been linked to lower cholesterol levels. It can also help the stomach empty more slowly and efficiently, which may reduce feelings of bloating after eating.
Insoluble fiber doesn’t dissolve in water. It helps push stools through the digestive tract faster and bulks up your stool to promote regular bowel movements. One study found that people who ate the most insoluble fiber had a 19% reduced risk of developing hemorrhoids. Fiber-rich diets have also been associated with a reduced risk of colon cancer, although this link has not been proven definitively.
More Benefits from Eating Fiber
In addition to keeping your digestive system healthy, Fiber to your Diet also helps keep you at a healthy weight and lowers the risk of diabetes and heart disease. Here’s how:
Fiber-rich foods are more satisfying than other types of food. This means you’ll feel fuller longer after eating them, which can help you control your weight.
High-fiber diets keep blood sugar levels steady by slowing the rate at which sugar is absorbed into the bloodstream. People with diabetes are often advised to eat fiber-rich foods to help manage blood sugar levels.
You can incorporate fiber into your diet in many delicious ways, including whole-grain cereals, fruit smoothies, oatmeal cookies and hearty salads. Start slowly if you’re not used to consuming high amounts of fiber.
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