Dietary fiber, which can be found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, is the bulk of the food that our bodies cannot digest. Instead of being absorbed by the body, dietary fiber is passed through the stomach, intestines, and colon before being expelled from the body in the form of fecal matter. There are two types of dietary fiber: soluble fiber and insoluble fiber.
The Difference Between Soluble Fiber and Insoluble Fiber
- Soluble fiber dissolves in water and becomes a gel-like texture which helps lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels
- Soluble fiber can be found in oats, legumes, carrots, barley, brussel sprouts, broccoli, and avocados
- Insoluble fiber attracts water to the stool which helps pass the stool easily and comfortably, preventing constipation
- Insoluble fiber can be found in whole wheat flour, beans, cauliflower, potatoes, green beans, and nuts
The Benefits of Dietary Fiber
- Promotes normal bowel movements by adding bulk to the stool as well as softening it, preventing constipation
- Reduces the risk of developing hemorrhoids and colon cancer
- Lowers bad cholesterol levels
- Helps regulate blood sugar levels by slowing the absorption of sugar, reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes
- Helps with weight loss because high-fiber foods are more filling, which leads to less calories being consumed
How Much Fiber Do You Need?
- Men need 38 grams of dietary fiber per day
- Women need 25 grams of dietary fiber per day
How to Increase Your Fiber Intake:
- Choose high fiber, low sugar cereals for breakfast
- Make sure at least half of your daily grains are whole grains
- Add legumes, such as beans and lentils, to your daily diet
- Eat more fruits and vegetables, and leave the peel on when possible for even more fiber
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