“Eat more fiber.”
That’s a line you’ve probably heard ad nauseam since childhood. And for good reason: the health benefits of dietary fiber are well documented. But despite those benefits being common knowledge, only 5% of the population manages to get a full daily supply of fiber.
To hit home fiber’s value, and help you take advantage of its perks, let’s take a close look at dietary fiber benefits and some common foods that contain fiber.
Taking Advantage of the Health Benefits of Dietary Fiber
Dietary fiber comes with plenty of benefits, some you may know and others you might not have guessed.
You may have heard that fiber helps promote gut health by keeping everything moving smoothly through the body. In the process, it also encourages healthy gut microbiota. There is also research that suggests that a high-fiber diet may reduce the risk of colorectal cancers.
Fiber is also thought to help reduce the risk of developing diabetes. This is because some fiber slows down the absorption of sugars, which can lessen the blood sugar spikes we usually experience after a full meal.
Foods high in fiber can also help us to feel more satiated after a meal. By making us think we’re fuller than we actually are, it can help us to eat less and lose weight.
Lastly, diets high in fiber are linked to lower blood pressure and a lower risk of heart disease. Researchers think this is because fiber can lower both total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, or “bad cholesterol” as it’s more often known.
Foods that Contain Dietary Fiber
It’s not unusual for people to have gaps in their diets, and using supplements like vitamins to make up the difference can be a practical solution. What’s even better though is to make foods that contain fiber a regular part of your daily diet.
There are two major forms of fiber, and different sources contain different types.
Soluble fiber dissolves in water, forming a gel-like substance. The bacteria in our large intestine later break down the gel produced. This type of fiber is particularly useful for lowering LDL cholesterol in the blood and regulating blood sugar by slowing the absorption of carbs.
Good sources of soluble fiber include beans and legumes, nuts, and oats.
Insoluble fiber, by contrast, does not dissolve and passes through the GI tract mostly intact. Hence, it doesn’t contribute to our calorie count, making it a good way to feel full while functionally eating less. It also aids in preventing and relieving constipation.
Good sources of insoluble fiber include whole grains, vegetables like leafy greens, and fruits.
Living a Healthier Life With the Benefits of Dietary Fiber
The health benefits of dietary fiber can extend well beyond your digestive health. Making foods with fiber a staple of your day-to-day diet can be a major step towards living a longer, healthier life.
But your fiber intake is only one aspect of your total lifestyle. To learn how you can set your health journey up to be successful, check out our guide on how to make positive lifestyle changes and stick with them.
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