High fiber diets are recommended by health professionals everywhere. Therefore we often hear about not getting the recommended level of fiber in our diets and generally associate this with ‘problems down there’, you know, when you need to ‘go’. Could getting enough fiber in our diets really lead to better weight control and positive health benefits?
Numerous studies have shown that people who have diets high in dietary fiber typically have lower body weights, lower body fat and lower body mass indexes. Also known as ‘roughage’ dietary fiber is primarily indigestible plant cellulose, a carbohydrate unable to be broken down and consumed as energy or stored by the body.
links associated with high fiber diets are extensive and include weight
control, blood sugar and cholesterol regulation, protection against stroke and
cardiovascular disease and prevention of some cancers.
Foods rich in fiber are by nature low in calories. High fiber diets still require moderation in other areas but this is often made easier by the fact, fiber rich foods absorb water and expand in the stomach giving you that “full feeling’. They also take longer to digest leaving you feeling satisfied for longer. Fibrous foods also can take longer to chew, which can prevent overeating by allowing adequate time for signals to travel from stomach to brain indicating you are full.
This makes for an excellent weight loss foundation!
The average modern diet only includes half the recommended level of fiber intake, this is primarily due to the fact that many convenience foods are heavily processed and refined. This figure is not helped too, by current diet trends that restrict carbohydrates typically high in fiber and other complex carbohydrates needed to fuel our bodies.
High fiber recipes are generally those that contain wholegrains, legumes and generous portions of fruits and vegetables. Roughly broken into soluble and insoluble classifications these two types each have a different role, while all plant foods contain both varieties they are often in different concentrations, which is why eating an extensive variety of foods is important.
dissolves in water, fermentation occurs in the gut, forming a prebiotic gel
which is believed to slow down the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates,
especially glucose, effectively stabilising blood sugar which can prevent
cravings and regulate insulin levels.
Soluble fiber is also essential for ease of laxation, regulation of colonic pH and is believed to bind with cholesterol, preventing it from being reabsorbed into the bloodstream. Insoluble fiber found in wholemeal flour and bread, wholegrain breakfast cereals, bran, brown rice, wholemeal pasta, grains and some fruits and vegetables, is as the name suggests able to pass through the digestive system almost intact, providing bulk and keeping the digestive system healthy and functional.
Consuming more fiber alone will not generate immediate weight loss, but as part of a healthy lifestyle including a balanced diet and regular exercise the general health and weight regulation benefits of including this often neglected nutrient are vast and effective.
High fiber diets are also typically abundant in essential vitamins and minerals. Fiber supplements are available however natural sources are recommended. The level of fiber intake can be increased safely within any dietary guidelines including celiac, diabetic and calorie restrictive - often without increasing energy consumption.
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