Have you ever listened to fitness enthusiasts discuss nutrition?
They can spend hours talking about different diets and debating the ideal protein or carb intake, but you’ll probably never hear them mention fiber.
And honestly, I understand why.
Fat loss and muscle growth make for great topics of conversation, but openly talking about how fiber helps prevent constipation can get awkward.
Dietary fiber is decidedly not a popular topic. Sexy or not, however, it remains an integral part of a healthy diet In this post we’ll cover the benefits of a high-fiber diet.
The Two Types Of Dietary Fiber
Dietary fiber is a type of carbohydrate found in plant foods. It cannot be broken down by the digestive system.
There are two kinds of fiber.
Soluble Fiber: Dissolves with water to create a gel-like substance. Can be found in oats, nuts, apples, beans etc.
Insoluble Fiber: As its name implies, insoluble fiber does not dissolve. Good sources include whole-grain products, vegetables and certain nuts.
It is important to note here that most plant foods actually have both types of fiber, but in differing ratios. Eat a variety of plant foods to cover your fiber needs.
The Benefits Of Dietary Fiber
There are several health benefits to a fiber-rich diet
Dietary fiber helps stabilize your blood sugar levels
Soluble fiber, in particular, can slow down the absorption of sugars and prevent your blood sugar levels from spiking.
Fiber helps maintain optimal bowel health
It adds bulk to your stool, which makes you less likely to suffer from constipation. In addition, there is data that suggests getting enough fiber can reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.
Fiber reduces bad cholesterol
There are two types of cholesterol, HDL and LDL. Fiber reduces LDL(low-density lipoprotein) levels, which is the ‘bad’ cholesterol.
Dietary fiber will help you reach and maintain a healthy weight
Natural foods that are high in fiber keep you full and usually have few calories. This makes them an excellent addition to a fat loss diet, as they can help reduce cravings and hunger.
How Much Dietary Fiber Is Enough?
By now we’ve established that dietary fiber is important. So, how much of it does the body need?
Generally, it is recommended that men below the age of 50 consume 38g of fiber daily. Older men should get 30g.
Women younger than 50 need 25g of fiber and older women should aim for 21g per day.
It’s All In The Raw Foods
Not all plant foods are rich in fiber.
In fact, most refined plant foods only contain small amounts of it, since the refining process largely strips grains of their fiber and vitamins.
To ensure that you get the fiber you need, include the following foods in your diet:
- Fruit (also eat the skin when possible)
- Veggies and leafy greens
- Whole-grain products
- Beans and legumes
To conclude, fiber is good for you and you should eat a lot of it.
The good news is that if you’re already following a healthy diet rich in raw plant foods, your fiber needs are covered.
If you’re worried about a fiber deficiency, simply eat more plant foods, don’t try to track your fiber intake. While I’m all for counting calories, accurately keeping track of your fiber and vitamin intake is realistically impossible.
Stay on the grind.