High fiber foods are something that we hear about often. Despite medical professionals, nutritionists, and weight loss gurus encouraging us to eat more of the stuff, we usually do not get enough of it. Studies show foods high in fiber build healthy bodies and prevent disease. Did you know these foods are all around us? Take a look at what they are and how they can help you!
What is Fiber after all?
Fiber is something found in many of the foods that we eat. It is a part of our food that our bodies cannot digest. Usually, fiber is found in most fruit and vegetables. However, foods such as beans, oatmeal, and fortified cereals have it too. Oatmeal is a special food that also contains magnesium, a mineral used in about 300+ enzyme functions on our body. As you can see, most foods with fiber also has numerous amounts of vitamins and minerals for our health.
There are two types of fiber you can include in your diet. The first type is “soluble” fiber, which means it can dissolve in water. This type of fiber is great for helping our bodies function normally. Another type of fiber we can get from our food is “insoluble”. This fiber allows our bodies to move our food through our digestive tract properly.
Why is Fiber so Important?
You may be wondering why fiber is so important if our bodies cannot digest it. The benefits of high fiber foods are seemingly endless. Take a look at how they can improve your health.
Fiber plays a key role in digestion especially when it comes to preventing constipation. Most importantly, it helps our bodies form healthy stools. Stool moves through our bodies via a muscular contraction called “peristalsis.” When our stool is an adequate shape and size, the peristalsis waves in our body will move frequently, resulting in regular trips to the bathroom.
Individuals who experience diarrhea often may be encouraged to increase their fiber intake. Fiber adds bulk to our stools and absorbs water in the digestive tract too. This treatment allows stool to return to normal but should be used in moderation. Eating too much fiber too quickly can cause even more digestive upset.
Fiber has also been shown to impact the overall health of your bowels. Adequate fiber intake is linked to a lower rate of both hemorrhoids and diverticular disease. Likewise, research suggests that fiber can reduce your risks of colorectal cancer by up to 40%.
From Head to Toe
A high fiber diet helps the entire body. Recent studies show that soluble fiber may lower cholesterol levels, improve cardiovascular health, and stabilize blood sugar in individuals with diabetes. A diet high in insoluble fiber may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes altogether. Fiber rich diets are great preventative measures for diseases like breast cancer too.
In 2011, the National Institutes of Health found that individuals who consumed fiber regularly had less chances of dying from chronic illnesses than individuals who did not eat fiber regularly. The more we research foods high in fiber, the more health benefits we find.
Can Fiber Help Weight Loss?
We often hear that fiber rich foods can make us lose weight, but is this true? Although fiber is not a quick fix for obesity, it does have benefits which may help you reach your weight loss goals. Fiber gets you feeling full quickly and for longer. This can lead to smaller meals, as well as less interest in snacking.
Do not go overboard though, any food no matter how healthy it is can prevent weight loss if you are eating too much of it. High fiber foods should be just a part of a balanced healthy diet that watches calories and encourages exercise.
How Much Fiber Should You Eat?
Modern diets are seriously lacking in fiber. The Institute of Medicine states that men should consume at least 38 grams per day, while women should aim to eat 25 grams. On average, we only consume about 15 grams per day.
The good news is that adding additional sources of fiber is very easy. Foods rich in fiber are usually those that grow from the ground, or off of the trees. This means that if we switch out processed snacks for more plant foods, grains, and nuts, we will likely be on the right track!
Signs of Low Fiber
The average person does not eat enough fiber, but does this include you? Your body may give you a few early warning signs when your fiber intake is too low. See if any of these potential symptoms sound familiar.
Constipation is when you have less than three bowel movements per week or when you have stools that are hard and difficult to pass. If you have been suffering from recent bouts of constipation, try reaching for foods high in fiber. Add these foods to your diet slowly to see if you experience any relief. Keep in mind that low fiber is not the only cause of constipation. Lack of exercise, dehydration, and certain medications can keep you from being regular too.
Some conditions such as hemorrhoids or diverticular disease can be linked to low fiber intake. However, more common issues like gas and bloating can signal a problem too. Fiber affects our entire digestive system, not just stool formation. If you are suffering from an uncomfortable digestive disorder, ask your doctor whether increasing your fiber intake may benefit you.
Fiber is what makes us feel comfortably full after a meal. While eating in excess is never recommended, you should definitely have a lot of fiber rich foods in your diet. If you find yourself snacking frequently, or never feeling completely satisfied when eating, you may want to double check that you are getting your recommended daily amount of fiber and nutrient dense foods.
Unusual Blood Test Results
Fiber is linked to our bodies cholesterol levels. Soluble fiber allows our body to get rid of excess cholesterol, and without adequate levels of this fiber, we may begin to see an increase in our overall cholesterol numbers.
Likewise, soluble fiber can keep our blood sugar normal. If your recent lab work shows an increase in cholesterol or glucose levels, you may want to speak with your healthcare provider about how fiber can help you.
As you can see, fiber plays a major role in our health. Although it is not something we absorb, not having enough can have a big impact on our bodies. Luckily, adding fiber rich foods to your diet is very easy! Here is a quick look at what foods are high in fiber.
List Of Fiber Rich Foods
Apples, as well as many other fruits such as bananas, oranges, and strawberries, are high fiber fruits. Each serving can have up to 4 grams. When eating fruits and vegetables, leave the peel on when you can. This is where most of the fiber will be!
Potatoes are a staple at dinner, and luckily, they are also great sources of fiber. Eating a whole potato, including the peel, will give you approximately 3 grams of fiber. Potatoes are also foods rich in potassium that will bring you lots of energy during the day. This food is really versatile and can be baked, mashed, or stewed, providing lots of options when adding them to your meals.
Beans are great high fiber foods. When it comes to beans, there are many varieties including pinto, garbanzo, kidney, and black beans. All types of beans will be good sources of fiber, but white or navy beans will actually have the most. In fact, just one cup of white beans will get you 25% of your recommended daily value. Beans are also one of the foods that are high in iron. If you can make beans a staple in your diet, you will definitely be on track for meeting your fiber goals.
On top of the high fiber foods list, is lentils. Just one cup will give you roughly 15 grams, which is great news if you struggle with eating fruits or vegetables. While lentils work great in salads and soups, they also work well as a meat substitute, breakfast dish, or healthy dessert too.
One whole avocado will pack about 10 grams of fiber, making this one of the highest fiber fruits. While avocados are great to eat on their own, adding them to a nutrient rich salad or smoothie will let you reach your fiber needs even faster.
Most of your average “greens” are considered high fiber vegetables. This includes leafy varieties like spinach which is also a good source of calcium and turnip greens, but also includes options like celery and broccoli too. Greens should be a staple in any healthy diet, and not just because they are high in fiber. All greens are rich in vitamins and minerals too.
Whether it be whole grain breads like dark rye or pumpernickel, or actual grains like bulgur wheat and brown rice, whole grain foods are ideal for increasing your daily fiber intake. Always make sure you are reaching for whole grain options before highly processed foods like white bread and white rice.
Foods that are high in fiber are easy to find in your local grocery store. By focusing on plant based options, and limiting processed foods and meat, you will be able to increase your fiber intake in no time. Here you can try our effective list of fat burning foods to lose some belly fat fast. As you have learned, fiber helps our entire bodies, while playing a major role in our digestive health. Take time to seek out fiber rich foods, and you will reap the benefits from them in many ways.