The importance of fiber to a healthy diet
When it comes to eating healthy and enjoying a healthier
lifestyle, it is hard to overstate the importance of fiber in
the diet. Even though fiber is most associated with grains, rice
and breads, it is important to remember that fruits and
vegetables also contain significant amounts of dietary fiber. In
fact, the need for fiber is just one more reason to eat your
fruits and vegetables every day.
In order to understand why dietary fiber is so important, it is
a good idea to know what fiber is and what role it plays in
digestion. Simply put, dietary fiber is the portion of food that
the human body cannot digest. Fiber is found in foods of plant
origin only; there is no fiber in meat and dairy products. Fiber
plays an important role in the digestion of food, and in the
elimination of waste products as they travel through the body.
Good sources of dietary fiber include grains, cereals, legumes,
lentils, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables. As we said before,
meats and dairy products do not contain any dietary fiber, so it
is important to eat some plant based foods ever day to get the
fiber you need.
Soluble vs. insoluble Not all fiber is the same, and fiber comes
in two forms – soluble and insoluble. All plant materials
contain both types of fiber, but some sources contain more of
one than the other. Eating a variety of foods rich in fiber
every day will ensure you get adequate levels of both soluble
and insoluble fiber.
Insoluble fiber is important in keeping people regular, and it
has shown promise as well in the prevention of some types of
colon and rectal cancers. Insoluble fiber is mainly found in
wheat brain, some types of vegetables and in whole grain
products. Some vegetables rich in insoluble fiber include
carrots, peas and broccoli. The skins of fruits are also rich in
Soluble fiber, on the other hand, has shown promise in reducing
levels of cholesterol in the blood, and at reducing the rate at
which glucose enters the bloodstream. Soluble fiber is abundant
in dried peas, lentils, beans, barley, oat bran, and in many
fruits and vegetables.
How much fiber is enough Many people are unsure just how much
dietary fiber they need every day, but most dietitians recommend
that women consume between 21 and 25 grams of dietary fiber per
day. For men, the recommendation is 30 to 38 grams of fiber each
Of course, that is easier said that done, and it is important to
know which foods are high in fiber in order to boost your daily
fiber consumption. In the case of packaged foods like breads and
crackers, the fiber content will be listed as part of the
nutritional label. In the case of fruits and vegetables, there
are charts which show the fiber content of an average size
piece. Some grocery stores post this information, and it is also
widely available on the internet.
When increasing dietary fiber, it is best to make the increase
gradual. A sudden jump in dietary fiber can lead to bloating,
gas and abdominal discomfort. In addition, it is important to
drink plenty of fluids, especially water, in order for fiber to
have the best effect. When choosing breads and cereals, it is
best to go with healthier whole grains. In general, the less
processing, the healthier the foods.
Eating the skins of fruits and vegetables is a great way to
increase dietary fiber. Many people like to make fruit shakes
and smoothies that use the skins of their favorite fruits. This
makes a delicious and nutritious way to increase fiber
consumption. In addition, keeping a variety of fiber rich foods,
such as apples, nuts, seeds and bran muffins, around for snacks
is a great idea.
And finally, eating a wide variety of foods will ensure that you
get plenty of fiber, as well as the vitamins, minerals, and
trace elements that make a balanced diet so important.
About the author:
Tony Robinson is a Company CEO, webmaster husband and dad. In
his busy lifestyle he has placed importance on health and
fitness. Visit http://www.eat-healthily.com for good eating tips
and techniques to assist you maintain a healthy lifestyle.