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High Fiber Diet

The High Fiber Diet

By Valerie Mellema

A high fiber diet offers numerous health benefits. A diet high in fiber can help to prevent constipation, lower the risk of digestive disorders, lower cholesterol, aids in weight loss, controls blood sugar and may even prevent colorectal cancer. We've all heard that we should eat more fiber, but you really don't realize how beneficial dietary fiber is until you begin to see these benefits surface.

Dietary fiber, which is found in mainly fruits and vegetables as well as whole grains and legumes, is best known as a remedy for constipation, but fiber's reach goes much further than that. There are various ways to include more high-fiber foods into your daily meals and snacks.

Dietary fiber is also known as roughage or "bulk." It includes all parts of the plant that you cannot digest. Fiber can't be digested by the body; therefore it passes rather quickly through the digestive system. There are two types of fiber including soluble and insoluble fiber.

Soluble fiber is the type that dissolves in water and forms a gel-like material. This fiber is vital in reducing your blood cholesterol as well as your glucose levels. Soluble fiber can be found in:

  • Oats
  • Peas
  • Beans
  • Apples
  • Citrus fruits
  • Barley
  • Carrots

Insoluble fiber is the type that promotes movement in the digestive system. It also increases the bulk of your stools and is beneficial to those who suffer from irregular stools or constipation. Foods containing insoluble fiber include:

  • Whole-wheat flour
  • Bran
  • Nuts
  • Vegetables

High fiber diets provide many benefits. The main benefit that many people recognize is the softening of stools so that they are easier to pass and decreases constipation. Fiber can also help to solidify stools as it absorbs water and adds bulk.

If you are prone to digestive problems such as irritable bowel syndrome or hemorrhoids, a high-fiber diet can lower your risk.

Additionally, fiber is important in lowering blood cholesterol levels, particularly LDL or "bad" cholesterol. Soluble fiber containing foods help in this area and include beans, flaxseed, oat and oat bran.

People who struggle with blood sugar levels also benefit from fiber. Soluble fiber helps to absorb sugar and this is beneficial to those who suffer from diabetes. A high fiber diet can also reduce the risk of developing type-2 diabetes.

High fiber foods also assist with weight loss. Because they require more effort in chewing, your body recognizes that it is full much more quickly. High fiber diets keep you feeling fuller longer as well. When you eat high fiber foods, you're less likely to overeat and you stay full longer. These foods are also "energy dense" and this means you can eat more of them and consume fewer calories.

There have been studies showing that a high fiber diet can also prevent colorectal cancer. However, more information is being sought on this claim. It is well-known that high-fiber foods are beneficial to the colon and digestive tract, but one should not replace a high fiber diet for regular colon check-ups.