I know what you’re thinking… fiber? really??? I agree, it is an odd subject. Something we really don’t want to talk about, or sometimes even think about. But fiber in our diets, especially the type that comes from whole grains and cereals, is really good for our health.
Here are a few reasons to increase your intake of dietary fiber:
First and most obvious, it assists with regularity. Hate to talk about it; but it’s simple: eat fiber, and stuff will keep moving. That’s enough on that…
Another reason to eat more fiber is that it helps to maintain a healthy weight. High fiber foods take more time to chew, which means we eat slower and are less likely to over eat. Higher fiber foods also tend to have fewer calories for the same amount of food. And, because being overweight increases the risk of developing different illnesses as well as different types of cancer, any effort in that area will benefit us.
More fiber lowers the risk of diabetes and heart disease. Those are issues that affect many people today. Fiber helps. In fact, soluble fiber (fiber which dissolves in water) which is found in beans, oats, flaxseed and oat bran lowers bad cholesterol levels, according to the Mayo Clinic. Studies have shown that it may also reduce blood pressure and inflammation.
Fiber also assists with blood sugar levels. Especially in people with diabetes, it helps to slow the absorption of sugar into our blood stream. It also may reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
Fiber lowers the risk of colon cancer. Researchers from Britain and the Netherlands found that “the more total dietary fiber and cereal fiber people consumed, the lower their colorectal cancer risk”. In fact, consuming an extra 90 grams of whole grains per day could lower the risk of colon cancer by 20%. However, the same was not true of fiber obtained from fruits and vegetables.
Additionally, in reviewing 25 studies including approximately 2 million people, researchers found that for each additional 10 grams of total dietary fiber and cereal fiber consumed a day, the person’s colorectal cancer risk decreased by 10 percent.
Ways to boost your intake of fiber
Try to incorporate whole grains, fruits, veggies, beans, peas, nuts and seeds into your daily diet.
Remember that refined or processed foods are lower in fiber.
Supplemental fiber is okay, but it’s not known if supplements provide the same health benefits as fiber from naturally occurring sources.
Keep in mind that increasing fiber intake should be gradual. Make sure and drink lots of water.
And, just so you know, I will be upping my fiber intake. I can’t write about these things and not at least try to follow them. That would be crazy. So, for dinner tonight? Crockpot pintos and whole grain brown rice. After all, gotta get that fiber!