When defining “healthy eating,” many people focus on what are considered basic concepts: counting calories, and getting the daily requirement of vitamins and minerals. Although a good starting point, there are many layers to this complex onion that need to be peeled away. One often-overlooked but critically important nutrient is fiber. Here are 5 reasons why fiber is our friend.
1. Fiber promotes heart health.
Studies show that dietary fiber lowers cholesterol, blood pressure, and inflammation by binding with fats and cholesterol and carrying them through the digestive tract and out of the body. Think of fiber as a tiny mop, absorbing unhealthy fats and expelling them from your body.
2. Fiber reduces the risk of Type 2 Diabetes.
For diabetics and those at risk for diabetes, dietary fiber helps slow the absorption of sugar. This keeps your blood sugar from rising too fast and reduces cravings for unhealthy foods. That means more energy to get you through the day.
3. Fiber facilitates weight loss and weight maintenance.
A high fiber diet is one of the easiest ways to help shed pounds. Foods that are rich in fiber are filling and satisfying which helps to stave off overeating.
4. Fiber promotes regularity.
Regularly consuming foods rich in fiber reduces risk of constipation and bloating and helps normalize bowel movements. It can also provide some relief for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disorder (GERD).
5. Fiber helps fight off cancer.
Dietary fiber moves through the intestinal track and helps eliminate harmful chemicals from your body that otherwise might linger and increase the risk of cancer. Additionally, bacteria in your intestinal track utilize dietary fiber to help fight cancer cells.
Fiber is a necessary component of our daily diet. With so many important functions and benefits, getting the daily recommended amount (women need 25 grams and men need 38 grams) of dietary fiber is essential. Try to eliminate processed foods, skip the fiber supplements, and choose whole-grain products, fruits, vegetables, legumes, oats, nuts, and seeds. Your heart, belly, and brain will thank you.
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