Whatever you call it, fiber, roughage or bulk, is often touted for its usefulness in helping to maintain bowel regularity. While this is undoubtedly true, there are other great benefits to ensuring that your diet contains sufficient fiber.
Fiber is the indigestible part of plant food (fruits and vegetables), that passes relatively intact through the digestive system and out of the body. It comes in two forms – soluble (dissolves in water) and insoluble (does not dissolve in water). Both types are beneficial to the body and found in most foods. Some good sources are apples, corn, potatoes, avocados, oats, peas, beans, almonds and citrus fruits.
So, you might be wondering how something that your body cannot breakdown could be good for you. Here are five reasons for adding that lovely bulk to your diet that can aid in maintaining your overall health.
Five Benefits Of Dietary Fiber
by Naturopathic Doctor Toronto
- Fiber regularizes bowel movements by adding weight and volume to stool while softening it. This makes it easier for stool to pass out of the body, decreasing the risk of constipation. On the flip side, watery stools are solidified by fiber, since it absorbs excess water as it bulks up the stool.
- Fiber has been shown useful in helping to maintain good bowel health by lowering the risk of you developing hemorrhoids and diverticular disease (small pouches in the colon). It is also felt that colon health is aided by fermentation of fiber in the colon.
- Soluble fiber, of which fruits (especially oranges), oats and beans are excellent sources, lowers “bad” cholesterol levels, leading to a reduction in total blood cholesterol. Fiber also reduces blood pressure, and that’s a very heart-healthy fact.
- Soluble fiber slows the absorption of sugar, helping to improve blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. The insoluble variety (high in brown rice, whole-wheat bread and the seeds and skins of fruit) reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
- High fiber foods work in several ways to help you to reach and maintain a healthy weight. Firstly, since these foods are bulkier, they increase the volume of food you consume without adding to your calorie intake. Additionally, a high-fiber meal leaves you feeling fuller for longer, since it takes more time for your body to digest fiber-rich foods. High-fiber foods also increase the amount of time you spend chewing. Your body is then better able to register that you are full before you actually end up overeating.
Far from bland, fiber comes in great tasting whole foods that are nutrient rich and low in calories. It benefits so many aspects of your health, while encouraging you to add important variety to your meals.