According to an article published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, adequate intake of dietary fiber is linked to a number of health benefits. These include a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, hypertension, certain gastrointestinal disorders, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer.
Of course, this superfood is known to regulate the activity of sugars in the body, helping to control hunger and blood sugar.
So far so good. Except for the fact that we are not eating enough. In fact, according to the same article, about 95 percent of us don't have enough fiber in our diet. In fact, most of us aren't even close.
In this article, we will discuss what fiber is, its importance, recent studies, and what you can do to get more fiber.
What is dietary fiber?
Fiber is considered a superfood by many health experts, and for good reason. Yes, it is essential to maintain proper digestion and prevent constipation. But fiber also contributes to better health in many other ways.
Adequate intake reduces the likelihood of lifelong illnesses and helps keep our blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight at healthy levels. Most superfoods (for example, avocados) are also high in fiber. We will go into this in a bit more detail later.
Dietary fiber is a plant-derived nutrient in the carbohydrate family. However, fiber is not your usual carbohydrate. Insoluble fiber, for example, cannot be broken down into sugar molecules and therefore remains almost intact during its journey through the intestinal tract. Insoluble fiber is available through certain carbohydrates or plant-based foods like brown rice, carrots, cucumbers, legumes, tomatoes, whole wheat bread, whole wheat couscous, and others.
Soluble fiber dissolves in water; Its main functions are to lower cholesterol in the blood and lower glucose levels. Good sources of soluble fiber include apples, barley, beans, blueberries, citrus fruits, dried beans, oats, oat bran, peas, potatoes, and strawberries. The skins of fruits and vegetables are also an excellent potential source of soluble fiber.
Why are we not eating dietary fiber?
Let's do a thought experiment, shall we? In the past 20 years, how many times have you heard something, maybe on the news, from a diet book or from a friend, about carbohydrates or fat? Sugar? Dairy? Gluten? These things seem to dominate the narrative whenever diet is discussed.
Now, how often do you hear the word fiber?
Not that often, and this is not an accident. The talking heads that have tried to convince us to buy the latest diet program make no mention of fiber either. The reason is simple: fiber is not for sale. You are more likely to get a lot of people to buy your shoddy diet product by mentioning buzzwords like fats, carbs, cholesterol, sugar, etc.
But to be fair, fiber deficiency is not the fault of the "health and wellness" industry. Some of us have not directed the attention and effort necessary to understand what our bodies need to be healthy. Health experts believe that laypeople fail to understand which foods provide good sources of fiber. Many people also have misperceptions about the recommended amount of fiber one needs. Dietary trends such as low-carb and gluten-free diets may also be contributing to widespread fiber deficiency.
But make no mistake: fiber is essential not only for a healthy weight, but also for a healthy body.
FIBER, SAVE LIVES
It is no exaggeration to say that regular consumption of this superfood saves millions of lives. According to a meta-analysis of 185 prospective studies and 58 clinical trials published in The Lancet, there is a 15 to 30 percent lower death rate from conditions such as colorectal cancer, coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes “when compared to higher with lower intakes of diets (fiber) ”.
Let's look at the findings of the T.H. from Harvard University. Chan School of Public Health on the effects of fiber on medical conditions, some serious.
A 2016 Harvard study published in the journal Pediatrics found that women who ate adequate fiber in early adulthood had a significantly lower risk of breast cancer than other women. Also, both soluble and insoluble fiber reduce the chances of breast cancer.
Although this particular study measures the effects of fiber consumption from infancy and early adolescence and cancer development, you will only gain from eating more fiber-rich fruits and vegetables. The anticancer benefits of fiber are well documented and understood, spanning all age groups.
Not being able to pass stool regularly or completely is the most common gastrointestinal complaint. Adequate fiber intake appears to prevent and relieve constipation. Along with that, it prevents hemorrhoids. It's no wonder it's considered a superfood.
The fiber in bran is shown to be more effective in relieving symptoms of constipation than fruits and vegetables. Foods like oatmeal and wheat bran are probably the best option. Just be sure to increase your fluid intake by increasing fiber levels, as the nutrient absorbs water through the digestive tract.
Diverticular disease, or diverticulitis, is one of the most widespread age-related health disorders in the West. Adequate fiber intake can reduce the risk of diverticulitis by up to 40 percent.
While any type of dietary fiber can help prevent diverticular disease, the insoluble variety may be more effective.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women, affecting one in four lives. In a long-term study of more than 40,000 participants, Harvard researchers found that a high intake of total dietary fiber reduces the risk of coronary heart disease by as much as 40 percent. Multiple studies seem to confirm this conclusion.
Higher amounts of fiber intake are also linked to a lower risk of developing metabolic syndrome, a number of health attributes that increase the risk of diabetes and heart disease. Metabolic syndrome is characterized by excess body weight (particularly around the abdomen), high blood pressure, high triglyceride and insulin levels, and a deficiency of HDL ("good") cholesterol.
GET MORE FIBER
We can do many things to help incorporate more of this superfood into our diet. Here are some quick tips on how to increase your fiber intake:
- Eat whole fruits (not packaged or processed)
- Eat foods with whole grains as the main ingredient
- Instead of eating potato chips, try whole potato chips. Or just eat some
- Raw fruits or vegetables (add a little low-fat dressing if desired).
- Get brown rice and whole grain products instead of white bread, pasta, or rice.
- If you eat meat in soups like chili, try substituting beans or legumes.
As mentioned above, the biggest problem many people have is simply not knowing which foods have this superfood! We are here to help! Here are ten foods that are some of the richest in fiber!
- Almonds: Delicious and healthy, almonds contain 3.4 grams of fiber per ounce (28.35gr) and 12.5 grams per 100 grams.
- Artichoke: Artichokes are the Rodney Dangerfields of the vegetarian world. However, just one artichoke contains a whopping 10 grams of fiber!
- Avocados: In addition to being loaded with healthy fats and other nutrients, avocados provide 10 grams of fiber per cup.
- Chia seeds: Speaking of healthy chia seeds, they are about as good as they sound. In fact, they can be the best source of fiber anywhere. Just one ounce of these seeds contains almost 11 grams of fiber.
- Lentils: In addition to being very cheap and super nutritious, lentils provide you with protein and fiber. Just one cup of cooked lentils contains almost 16 grams of fiber.
- Beans: Like all legumes, beans contain a large dose of protein. Beans also provide about 11 grams of fiber per cup.
- Split Peas: Are you a fan of split pea soup? You should be. Just one cup of split peas contains more than 16 grams of fiber.
- Chickpeas: Here's another legume that packs a good amount of fiber, about 12.5 grams per cup.
- Oatmeal: Oatmeal is just healthy, period. In addition to carrying real antioxidant, mineral and vitamin power, raw oats deliver approximately 16.5 grams of fiber in one cup.
- Popcorn: Popcorn is the ideal snack if you want to add more of this superfood to your diet, which contains approximately 14.5 grams per 100 gram serving.
RECOMMENDED DAILY INTAKE
Below is a table detailing the recommended daily intake of dietary fiber by age and gender:
|Age (years)||Dietary fiber IR (grams / day)|
FINAL THOUGHTS ON DIETARY FIBER
We all need dietary fiber for optimal health. Sadly, many of us opt for fast foods that really lack this superfood. Making a conscious effort to increase your intake can improve your overall well-being.