The Importance of Fiber in Your Diet

Nutrition labels are on almost every food product we buy, but when was the last time you’ve looked at fiber on the label? Fiber is a complex sugar or carbohydrate, that is found in vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains. Our bodies cannot digest or break down fiber. On nutrition labels, you would often see two main types of fiber listed, soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber means that it can be dissolved in water, whereas insoluble means that it cannot be dissolved in water. A diet high in fiber can bring many benefits to our health and help keep diseases at bay.


A diet rich in fiber brings many benefits to your health! Soluble fiber has been shown to help decrease cholesterol levels and improve blood glucose levels, which may help prevent cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Insoluble fiber helps speed up the movement of stool through the gastrointestinal system, therefore helping our bodies get rid of waste. Fiber plays an important role in weight loss as well! Foods rich in fiber also tend to have lower calories and fat, which means that a higher volume of fiber-rich foods in our diets would also mean consuming fewer calories versus a diet low in fiber! The fiber in our body also acts like a sponge where it helps retain water in the stomach, which helps create a “bulk”, to help you feel full longer and your chances of overeating during the day would likely decrease.


Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds are all foods that are high in fiber. Including fiber-rich foods such as raspberries, apples, whole wheat bread, lentils, almonds, broccoli, and peas may help with weight loss and the prevention of various diseases. However, introducing too much fiber in your diet too quickly can lead to uncomfortable symptoms such as gas, cramps, and diarrhea. Slowly increase your fiber intake over time so that your body may adjust easier to the change and drink plenty of water along with it. It is recommended that healthy adults should be eating 25 to 38 grams of fiber per day. For strategies and resources on how to include more fiber in your diet, check out the resources section below.


Resources


https://www.choosemyplate.gov/

https://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/fiber

https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/prevention/pdf/posthandout_session6.pdf

https://www1.nyc.gov/site/doh/health/health-topics/eating-well.page