What's So Good About Fiber, and How Can You Get More?
By Stepy Kamei
If you've been looking to improve your diet lately, you've probably been doing your research and you're well aware of the basics: Stay away from processed foods and foods high in salt and fat, and make sure you're eating plenty of lean proteins and foods with high nutritional value. It's important to get good amounts of protein, vitamins, and minerals with every meal and snack, but are you aware of the importance of fiber in your diet? Read on to learn more about why fiber is so beneficial to your health, and what you can do to make sure you're getting enough of it in your meals.
The Crucial Benefits of Fiber
Fiber is a crucial nutrient the body needs to thrive, and this is mostly due to the way it improves digestive health. Fiber promotes and encourages the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut. Most of us have negative associations with the word "bacteria," but there is such a thing as healthy bacteria, which is not only good for you but actually essential to maintaining gut health. You'll experience better digestion and even reduced inflammation throughout the body as a result of higher fiber intake. This means less aches and pains, not only in the stomach, but throughout the entire body.
Another benefit to eating more fiber is that you'll feel fuller longer. This often means you'll experience less cravings and a reduced risk of overeating, since your body won't be sending signals to your brain asking for more food.
Try These Fiber-Rich Foods
So, now that you know what fiber can do for you, how can you make sure you're getting enough of it? For starters, fiber can be found naturally in all fruits and vegetables, so make sure you're getting plenty of fresh produce in your diet. Try to stay away from frozen produce if you can, since freezing often means reducing the amount of nutrients in the food. It's also a good idea to stick to in-season fruits and veggies for the most abundant amounts of fiber and other nutrients.
Beans and lentils are also great sources of fiber, and they can be added to many types of dishes. Add black beans to a rice and chicken dish, or cook up a pot of lentil curry, for a balanced and fiber-filled meal.
Knowing which foods to have on hand is important, but it can also be helpful to know which types of food to avoid. In general, foods that are highly processed tend to be stripped of nutritional value, including fiber content. Processed foods are usually packaged or frozen, and often contain high amounts of salt, sugar, and fat in order to compensate for the lack of nutrients. Always buy fresh and minimally-processed when you can.
The good news is that fiber can be found naturally in many foods, so you can still get a variety of tastes into your everyday diet. Just be sure not to eat excess amounts of fiber, or you could experience stomaches.
To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Tucson, Ariz.