You may have come across many articles or paediatricians suggesting you include more fiber-rich foods in your everyday diet. Ever wondered why is it so important for keeping your body healthy? Here’s everything you need to know about fibers and the health benefits associated with it:
What is fiber?
Fiber is essentially a carbohydrate that is not digested by our body. Fiber has a lot of health benefits. It lowers the absorption rate of sugar into our bloodstreams and helps in maintaining a healthy bowel movement. It helps in keeping our digestive system healthy and clean by sweeping the bad cholesterol and harmful substances away from the body.
The recommended daily intake of fiber is 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men.
These are the fibers that dissolve in water, forms a gel that binds cholesterol-rich bile acids and are then eliminated as waste. Soluble fiber helps in regulating the cholesterol levels by lowering the bad cholesterols and blood pressure. It is also linked to controlling the blood glucose level, thereby benefiting those who already have diabetes.
Best sources of soluble fiber: Whole-grain oats, lentils, black beans, barley, broccoli, sweet potato, apples, raspberries, oranges, dark coloured vegetables.
These are the fibers that do not dissolve in water and are made up of cellulose and lignin molecules. If the stool stays stuck in the body for a longer time, the excreted substances can get absorbed back into the bloodstream through the walls of the intestines. Insoluble fiber helps in bulking up the stool and facilitating it to pass quickly through intestines., thereby preventing constipation, haemorrhoids etc.
Best sources of insoluble fiber: Wheat bran, whole-wheat bread, seeds, nuts, legumes, corn, the skin of fruits and vegetables.
Health benefits of fiber:
1. Digestion: Fiber is essential for preventing constipation as well as diarrhoea as it improves bowel movements and helps stools to pass easily by increasing its weight. It is also important for reducing the risk of haemorrhoids, kidney stones, ulcers etc.
2. Diabetes: Insoluble fibers are known for reducing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes whereas soluble fibers can help in lowering the absorption rate of sugar thereby controlling the blood sugar levels.
3. Heart disease: Fiber helps in improving the health of our heart by lowering the low-density lipoproteins or bad cholesterols as well as blood pressure and reducing the risk of stroke, diabetes, heart diseases etc.
4. Weight loss: Fiber easily fills up your stomach preventing the urge to eat in bulk and helps in reducing the habit of eating impulsively by keeping you full for a longer time. Fiber also helps in keeping your blood sugar level in check and provides high energy that facilitates better metabolism rate. Include more of high-fiber foods like fruits and vegetables in your diet, as they tend to be filling yet low in calorie.
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