While most carbs are broken down into sugar, fiber passes through your digestive system undigested and helps it to function properly. Fiber not only regulates your bowel movements, but also keeps your blood sugar levels in check.
To maintain good health, it’s best to try to eat at least 20-30 grams of fiber a day. Foods that are high in fiber include:
- Whole grain cereals, pasta, bread, oats, barley and rye
- Fruits such as berries, pears, melons, oranges, strawberries, avocados and apples
- Vegetables such as beets, broccoli, spinach, collards, asparagus, carrots and sweetcorn
- Peas, beans and legumes
- Nuts and seeds (pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, etc.)
What are the different types of fiber?
There are two kinds of fiber:
- Soluble fiber: Dissolves in water to form a gummy gel. It can slow down the passage of food from the stomach to the intestine. Dried beans, oats, barley, bananas, potatoes and soft parts of apples and pears contain soluble fiber.
- Insoluble fiber: Often referred to as "roughage" because it does not dissolve in water. It instead holds onto water, which helps produce softer, bulkier stools. Whole grain products, nuts, corn, carrots, grapes, berries and peels of apples and pears contain insoluble fiber.
What are the benefits of eating fiber?
- Lowers cholesterol: Soluble fiber can lower cholesterol because it binds with your bile (composed of cholesterol) and takes it out of your body. This may reduce the risk of heart disease.
- Regulates blood sugar levels: High-fiber foods slow down the digestion of food into your intestines, preventing sudden blood sugar spikes.
- Controls weight: Fiber-rich foods keep you feeling full for longer, preventing overeating and hunger between meals.
- May prevent intestinal cancer: Insoluble fiber increases the bulk and speed of food moving through the intestinal tract, which reduces the buildup of harmful substances.
- Relieves constipation: Fiber helps regulate bowel movements by pulling water into the colon to produce softer, bulkier stools. This action also helps to promote better bowel regularity.
- Prevents diverticulitis: Fiber can decrease the risk of diverticulitis, a condition in which pouches formed in the colon become infected. Fiber keeps food that moves through the digestive tract clear of these pouches.
- Reduces the risk of colorectal cancer: Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer deaths in the world. Increased intake of fiber-rich foods contain other healthy nutrients and antioxidants that may lower cancer risk.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Nutrition and Healthy Eating Resources
HelpGuide.org. High-Fiber Foods. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/healthy-eating/high-fiber-foods.htm
WebMD. Types of Fiber and Their Health Benefits. https://www.webmd.com/diet/compare-dietary-fibers