Most of us already know that high fiber foods promote healthy bowel regularity and prevent constipation. But did you also know that there are six other major benefits of fiber that can help you think, feel and look better?
Itâ€™s true! Fiberâ€™s great for your mind, your appearance and your whole body.
Thatâ€™s why so many health authorities strongly recommend that everyone get at least 20 to 35 grams of fiber in their diet each and every day.
But the average American is only getting about 12 grams of fiber a day, which is way short of whatâ€™s necessary for you to look and feel great.
Â Seven Good Reasons to Get More Fiber in Your Diet
Â 1. Fiber supports weight control. High fiber foods are digested much more slowly than low fiber foods. This makes you feel fuller both sooner and longer, so youâ€™re less likely to overeat. Theyâ€™re also usually lower in calories, fat and added sugars, which helps control food cravings.
Â 2. Fiber helps prevent diabetes. Fiber foods slow down nutrient absorption during the process of digestion, which in turn supports better control of blood sugar and insulin response. Many clinical studies have demonstrated a positive correlation between high fiber diets and a reduced incidence of type 2 diabetes â€“ the number two killer disease in the U.S.
3. Fiber boosts your brain power. Your brain needs a steady flow of blood glucose for optimum alertness and acuity. As theyâ€™re digested, foods high in fiber gradually raise your blood sugar, eliminating the dramatic up and down spikes of refined foods. A Welsh study showed a 10% decrease in fatigue and depression and higher brain power among those who ate a high fiber cereal for breakfast, rather than donuts or pop tarts.
4. Fiber regulates bowel movements. Studies show the high fiber skins of fruits and vegetables and husks of 100% whole grains absorb water in the bowels to make stools soft and bulky. This helps prevent constipation. Studies also show that fiber may relieve irritable bowel syndrome and lower your risk of hemorrhoids and diverticulosis (pouches in the colon).
5.Â Fiber helps prevent heart disease. Getting enough fiber in your diet has been shown to help lower your bad (LDL) cholesterol, triglycerides and total blood cholesterol. High cholesterol is a major cause of atherosclerosis (hardening and blocking of arteries), which increases your risk of high blood pressure and heart attack. Harvard University research studies show that people who eat the most dietary fiber have a 49% decrease in heart disease, which is the number one killer disease in the U.S.
6.Â Fiber helps prevent certain cancers. A reduced risk of colon and rectum cancer has been linked to an increase in high fiber consumption. One study showed a dietary increase of 13 grams of fiber a day decrease your risk of colorectal cancer by 31%. Other studies have shown that a high fiber diet may also protect against cancer of the prostate, breast and uterus. Cancer is the number three U.S. killer disease.
Â 7.Â Fiber increases immune protection. Antioxidants help to boost your immune system. And many high fiber foods like green leafy vegetables, berries and other colorful fruits, 100% whole grains and cereals, beans, pecans and whole oats are great sources of healthy antioxidants.
How to Increase Your Daily Fiber Intake
Begin by gradually replacing all â€œwhiteâ€ foods from your diet â€“ refined white bread, white pasta, white rice and white potatoes (boiled, baked or fried).
Instead of these â€œwhiteâ€ foods, start adding 100% whole wheat breads and pasta, plus other healthy whole grains, such as brown rice and quinoa.
Also aim to get at least five to nine servings of brightly colored red, green, yellow and blue fruits and vegetables daily. Tree nuts (walnuts, pecans and almonds), beans and lentils are also excellent high fiber foods.