You may have noticed how most experts stress the importance of fiber in a healthy diet. This is due to dietary fiber plays a very critical role in digestion and, when taken in the right quantities, can be very effective in preventing deadly diseases. But, what is dietary fiber and how can we make sure we are consuming enough?
Dietary fiber is a component of plant foods. Our bodies do not digest it but fiber facilitates the movement of food through our digestive track, absorbing water and assisting in the proper elimination of waste materials.
Dietary fiber is classified into two types: soluble, which dissolves in water; and, insoluble, which does not dissolve in water and goes through the digestive tract illegally unchanged. Plant foods contain both types of fiber although in different quantities. Fruits, vegetables, and soy products are rich in soluble fiber which lowers bad cholesterol and helps regulate blood sugar levels thereby preventing heart disease and diabetes. On the other hand, rice, wheat, and corn bran are rich in insoluble fiber which attracts water that softens stool, prevents constipation, and reduces your risk of getting colon cancer.
Whether soluble or insoluble, fiber increases bulk in your diet then making you feel fuller with less food. This is a definite bonus for people who are trying to lose weight and maintain a healthier lifestyle.
Ensuring that you get sufficient amounts of fiber in your diet is relatively easy. All it takes is making some healthy food choices. For instance, you can take in much more fiber by simply choosing wheat bread over white bread, or brown rice over white rice. Skins of fruits and veggies contain lots of insoluble fiber, so try eating them as much as practicable. Fruits like bananas, raisins, and strawberries are loaded with fiber so keep them handy in the fridge for snacks. Of course, vegetables are fiber-packed so try to plan your menu to include veggies as often as possible.
Choosing food rich in fiber will definitely put you on the right track to better health. However, do note that when you increase your fiber intake, you will have to drink plenty of water for the fiber to be effective. Otherwise, fiber can hold up digestion and cause even more constipation.