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The Importance Of Fiber To A Healthy Diet
By Tony Robinson, Tue Jan 10th
When it comes to eating healthy and enjoying a healthierlifestyle, it is hard to overstate the importance of fiber inthe diet. Even though fiber is most associated with grains, riceand breads, it is important to remember that fruits andvegetables also contain significant amounts of dietary fiber. Infact, the need for fiber is just one more reason to eat yourfruits and vegetables every day.
In order to understand why dietary fiber is so important, it isa good idea to know what fiber is and what role it plays indigestion. Simply put, dietary fiber is the portion of food thatthe human body cannot digest. Fiber is found in foods of plantorigin only; there is no fiber in meat and dairy products. Fiberplays an important role in the digestion of food, and in theelimination of waste products as they travel through the body.
Good sources of dietary fiber include grains, cereals, legumes,lentils, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables. As we said before,meats and dairy products do not contain any dietary fiber, so itis important to eat some plant based foods ever day to get thefiber you need.
Soluble vs. insoluble Not all fiber is the same, and fiber comesin two forms - soluble and insoluble. All plant materialscontain both types of fiber,
but some sources contain more ofone than the other. Eating a variety of foods rich in fiberevery day will ensure you get adequate levels of both solubleand insoluble fiber.
Insoluble fiber is important in keeping people regular, and ithas shown promise as well in the prevention of some types ofcolon and rectal cancers. Insoluble fiber is mainly found inwheat brain, some types of vegetables and in whole grainproducts. Some vegetables rich in insoluble fiber includecarrots, peas and broccoli. The skins of fruits are also rich ininsoluble fiber.
Soluble fiber, on the other hand, has shown promise in reducinglevels of cholesterol in the blood, and at reducing the rate atwhich glucose enters the bloodstream. Soluble fiber is abundantin dried peas, lentils, beans, barley, oat bran, and in manyfruits and vegetables.
How much fiber is enough Many people are unsure just how muchdietary fiber they need every day, but most dietitians recommendthat women consume between 21 and 25 grams of dietary fiber perday. For men, the recommendation is 30 to 38 grams of fiber eachday.
Of course, that is easier said that done, and it is important toknow which foods are high in fiber in order to boost your dailyfiber consumption. In the case of packaged foods like breads andcrackers, the fiber content will be listed as part of thenutritional label. In the case of fruits and vegetables, thereare charts which show the fiber content of an average sizepiece. Some grocery stores post this information, and it is alsowidely available on the internet.
When increasing dietary fiber, it is best to make the increasegradual. A sudden jump in dietary fiber can lead to bloating,gas and abdominal discomfort. In addition, it is important todrink plenty of fluids, especially water, in order for fiber tohave the best effect. When choosing breads and cereals, it isbest to go with healthier whole grains. In general, the lessprocessing, the healthier the foods.
Eating the skins of fruits and vegetables is a great way toincrease dietary fiber. Many people like to make fruit shakesand smoothies that use the skins of their favorite fruits. Thismakes a delicious and nutritious way to increase fiberconsumption. In addition, keeping a variety of fiber rich foods,such as apples, nuts, seeds and bran muffins, around for snacksis a great idea.
And finally, eating a wide variety of foods will ensure that youget plenty of fiber, as well as the vitamins, minerals, andtrace elements that make a balanced diet so important.
About the author:Tony Robinson is a Company CEO, webmaster husband and dad. Inhis busy lifestyle he has placed importance on health andfitness. Visit http://www.eat-healthily.com for good eating tipsand techniques to assist you maintain a healthy lifestyle.
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