Dietary Fiber Foods and Diet

Dietary Fiber Benefits

Dietary fiber helps us with many things, and one of them is losing weight. Foods rich in dietary fiber keep us feeling full and reduce food cravings. Once the fiber is in our bodies, it reduces blood glucose spike risk and reduces risk of heart disease, diabetes, and importantly helps control flare ups of irritable bowel syndrome, problems like diverticulitis, anal fissures, Angiodysplasia (fragile blood vessels), hemorrhoids, and other lower gastrointestinal tract problems. Dietary fiber also helps relieve and reduce constipation.

For proper bowel movements and elimination after digestion, the body needs sufficient fiber intake. Fiber itself is not digested, but helps absorb wastes in the poop so that the waste can be passed to the colon and excreted. The absorbtion of fluids and extra waste, helps create normal poop that is soft and usually has normal poop shape, and passes easily without straining.

Poop with too little fluids become shrunken, constipated, and hard. The colon muscle contractions can not grip the stool and move it towards the rectum for elimination. Prolonged constipation results in possible intestinal blockages, inflammation of the digestive tract and many long-term digestive health problems. Also, the straining caused by passing of constipated stools puts pressure on abdominal walls, causes anal fissures, hernias, varicose veins around the anus, and more.

Types of Dietary Fiber

There are two types of fiber:

  • Insoluble Dietary Fiber - don't dissolve in water, increases the bulk and softness of the stool, making them easier to pass, helps control bowel movement irregularity and constipation
  • Soluble Dietary Fiber - dissolves in water and helps line the inside of the colon to allow easier passage of stool. Soluble fiber helps lower cholesterol and glucose levels
Soluble fiber produces a gel-like substance that is linked to lowering cholesterol. Lower cholesterol levels mean fewer blockages in the arteries resulting in a lower risk for heart disease which is the number one killer of both men and women in the United States. Foods that are higher in fiber like legumes, oats, whole grains and fruits, also have a low glycemic index and can lower risk of developing type II diabetes.

Further benefits of dietary fiber are that foods rich in fiber take a longer chew, giving our brain time to to catch up to our stomachs and realize when we are full. High-fiber foods absorb water, creating a feeling of being full for a longer period of time. Increasing fiber in your diet can help decrease over-eating and unnecessary snacking that can lead to weight gain. Be careful not to get too excited and over-do it on the fiber. A dramatic increase in dietary fiber can cause painful bloating.

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