Fiber, fiber, fiber – what is it and why should we eat it?
We’ve all heard that dietary fiber is good for digestion and constipation – but it has many other health benefits as well, such as maintaining a healthy weight and lowering your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. There are tons of tasty fiber rich foods out there, so perhaps knowing what to choose and where to find them can set you in the right direction to a healthy and flourishing life!
Let’s start with the basics – what is a dietary fiber? Dietary fiber are plant foods that your body cannot digest or absorb. (What?!) You read it right, the fiber that you eat passes through your stomach small intestine and large intestine and straight out of your body.
*For our science lovers, it might be interesting to know that there are two types of fibers. Soluble fibers dissolve in water to form a gel-ish material. They help lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels. You can find soluble fibers in ingredients such as apples, carrots, peas, beans, and oats. Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, helps move things along your digestive system and increases stool bulk. Insoluble fibers are found in cauliflower, potatoes, nuts, whole wheat flour, and beans.
Pro tip: Different plant foods have different amounts of soluble and insoluble fibers. Make sure you eat a wide variety of high fiber foods to maximize the health benefit.
Benefits of Dietary Fiber
- Bowel movement: Fiber increases the size and bulk of your stool as well as softens it. This means that you’re going to have a way easier time on the toilet and won’t have to sit there until your legs go numb (ew, ants crawling). Fiber solidifies the stool because it absorbs water and brings everything together.
- Gut health: Fiber feeds the “good” gut bacteria. Our bodies are made up of more bacteria than body cell. These friendly bacteria produce nutrients for the body, and have many other health benefits. And how can we be of service to them? Well, fiber is their preferred choice of food. So let them feast!
- Lower cholesterol level: Soluble fiber may help lower total blood cholesterol levels by lowering the “bad” cholesterols. Think of it as a broom that sweeps away the nasty cholesterol clogging up your blood vessels.
- Helps control blood sugar levels: Fiber can slow down the absorption of sugar into the body. Think about how you get drunk slower when you have food in your body, you get the gist.
- Maintain healthy weight: Fiber rich foods tend to be more filling, leaving you more satisfied and less likely to binge on your second can of peanut butter (don’t worry, we’ve all been there).
Where Can We Find These Fibers?