Fiber is a key component of a healthy diet.
Studies show that people who do not get enough fiber in their diets are:
- More likely to have high cholesterol and cardiovascular problems.
- At an increased risk for developing diabetes.
- More likely to be constipated, suffer from diarrhea or have hemorrhoids.
- At a higher risk for many gastrointestinal disorders. Plus, people who don't get enough fiber in their daily diets are more likely to suffer from obesity and have difficulty staying at a healthy weight.
Dietary fiber comes in two varieties, soluble fiber and insoluble fiber.
- – Soluble fiber dissolves in the intestines and helps lower LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) and glucose levels. Insoluble fiber does not dissolve as it moves through the body, and it allows material to move more easily through your digestive system.
- – Insoluble fiber aids in defecation, easing both constipation and diarrhea.
Fiber is also essential for weight loss. Fiber is bulky. It's nearly impossible to wolf down a meal that's high in fiber, and that extra time it takes to eat gives your body time to register that it's full. Additionally, fiber's bulkiness makes you feel fuller sooner, which limits the amount of food you're likely to consume in a single sitting.
Clearly, our bodies function more efficiently when we're consuming the appropriate amount of fiber.
Luckily, there are quick and easy ways to increase your fiber intake that also happen to be delicious.
- Start the day off right: They don't call breakfast the most important meal of the day for nothing. If you're an oatmeal person, top it off with berries or another fruit. If you're partial to a morning omelet, pack it with vegetables. Not sure what to eat? Check our our Beyond Diet Breakfast Recipes section on the site and choose from over 3,000 recipes.
- Go for legumes: Not only is it a fun word to say, but beans, lentils, peas and nuts are packed with fiber. Top your salad off with legumes, or add them to soups for a fiber-rich meal. Not sure how to make the best legume recipes? Try one of our Member Favorites: Black Bean Chili, or Turkey Black Bean Burgers, or even a Black Bean Frittatta.
- Snack like an all-star: Remember that you want to be eating regularly throughout the day to keep your metabolism going strong. For your daily snacks, go for fruits, vegetables or nuts, all of which are high in fiber. Get more Beyond Diet Snack Recipe ideas that you'll love to eat during the day.
As with everything else, remember that moderation is essential. Too little fiber in your diet leads to the problems listed at the beginning of this article. Too much, and you risk bloating, gas and cramping. The Mayo Clinic suggests 30-38 grams of fiber for men and 21-25 grams for women, depending on age.
With all the delicious possibilities for increasing your daily fiber intake, this is one health habit you'll be eager to pick up!
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