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You can argue the pros and cons of a ketogenic or a vegan diet on end, but there are only upsides to a high-fiber diet. If you had a diet matchmaker, it’s likely a high-fiber diet is “the one” — with zero reservations or stipulations. Yes, High-Fiber Diet is that good. Research has shown that diets low in fat and high in fiber reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, and even some cancers, So start eating your fiber!
It is the indigestible parts of plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains, that travel through the gut and help manage digestion and waste. This essential nutrient falls into the carbohydrate category, but unlike most carbs that break down into sugar, dietary fiber remains untouched as it passes through the body.
There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble.
Soluble fiber comes from structures within the cells of the plant. Once it enters the digestive tract, it mixes with water to form a gel in the digestive tract that binds to fatty acids. This slows down digestion and the rate of sugar absorption. As a result, blood-sugar levels stabilize, and cholesterol levels go down. As a result, it, in turn, helps prevent heart disease.
On the other hand, Insoluble fiber comes from the hard, structural part of plants like such as bran, seed husks and the skins of fruits and vegetables. Insoluble fiber makes its way through the digestive system relatively intact, bulking up stools and acting as an intestinal broom. This sweeps waste out through the colon.
Both types of fiber are necessary. However, neither one can function on its own, and both are entirely dependent on the amount of hydration in your system. Moreover, Fiber is like a sponge, so even an adequate amount of fiber won’t work without enough water.
The Benefits of a High-Fiber Diet
In addition to regulating bowel functions, a high-fiber diet has been linked to a lower risk of heart disease and lower risk of breast cancer. Fiber can also contribute to weight loss because it makes you feel full without the extra calories (insoluble fiber has no calories).
Some studies even link a high fiber diet to fewer and less severe food allergies. Have you got digestive issues, like constipation or an upset stomach? Fill up on fiber.
Fiber helps power the gastrointestinal system, which plays an essential role in boosting your immune system. Once undigested fibers arrive in the large intestine, they serve as prebiotic fuel for the friendly bacteria living there.
When there isn’t enough fiber in the diet, there will be a shift in the microbiome to favor the growth of bacteria that can survive on fat and protein (aka the bad guys). They produce compounds that are circulated throughout the entire body. An overgrowth of harmful bacteria can produce inflammatory compounds or compounds that cause plaque in the veins. Therefore, a lack of fiber has implications for cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity goes way beyond gut health.
Are You Getting Enough Fiber?
The recommended daily amount of fiber is 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men. However, it’s worth noting that these numbers are just the minimum requirement and that is where we should be starting. A high-fiber diet is considered to be anything over that minimum.
Currently, Americans only eat about 16 grams of fiber per day, which is alarming since the thread is essential for healthy bowels and regularity. We’re a fiber-deficient society, which means we’re a sick society.
On the other end of the spectrum, it’s also possible to overdo it. Going above your maximum tolerable amount (40 to 50 grams for most people) can result in gas, bloating, cramping and, ironically, constipation. The important thing is that if you want to increase your fiber intake, do it gradually and drink lots of fluids along with it.
Those on low-carb diets (we’re looking at you keto) are at more risk of fiber deficiency because much fiber is found in grains and fruits. The diet itself is excellent, but the problem is that people sacrifice fruits and vegetables for too much meat. Instead, they should focus on low-carb, plant-based foods. Avocados, for example, could meet both high-fiber and high-fat needs.
Fiber Supplements: Friend or Faux?
So, can we take fiber supplements to boost our intake? Yes and no. Fiber pills and powders can help get you there, but they’re not a one-to-one substitute for natural fiber-rich foods. Fiber supplements should only be used to complement a well-balanced diet, but never as a primary source. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and these products don’t provide the vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients that fibrous foods have.
If you need supplements to fill in gaps, be wary of synthetic sources of the fiber. For instance, methylcellulose, calcium polycarbophil, and wheat dextrin. They’re chemicals, and we’re not robots. We’re humans, and we need to process food. Food-based supplements, like psyllium and inulin, which is also prebiotic are recommended.
The best sources of fiber are always going to be whole foods. Thus, most of which contain the two types of fiber. However, it’s not necessary to calculate them separately. The focus should be on overall fiber intake, rather than the specific type of fiber.
Top Foods High in Fiber
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