Posted By Author on February 22, 2023
Throughout our lives, we’ve heard “get more fiber in your diet” a number of times. While it’s not a new concept, it’s important to understand just how great fiber is for your health.
Dietary fiber is primarily found in fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. Most people know it best for its ability to relieve constipation. Not only does fiber help get things moving, but it also provides a number of great health benefits, like lowering your risk for diabetes and heart disease.
Here at Charleston GI, we’re dedicated to your overall health, plus your gut. Read on to learn more about the benefits of dietary fiber.
Dietary fiber is generally categorized as two types: Soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. They provide two distinct functions in your digestive tract and are both beneficial to your diet.
Soluble fiber is dissolvable in water and becomes a “gel-like” substance as it moves through your digestive system. Soluble fiber has been shown to lower cholesterol and help regulate blood sugar. You’ll get soluble fiber from beans, citrus fruits, apples, barley, carrots, and oats.
Insoluble fiber is just that – not soluble. This type adds bulk to your digestive tract and helps move all material efficiently through your system. If you struggle with constipation or irregular stools, insoluble fiber is a great way to improve your bowel movements. Whole wheat foods, beans, potatoes, nuts, cauliflower, and green beans are all great sources of insoluble fiber.
Dietary fiber is like gold for the gut and can help relieve or prevent a number of gut health conditions.
Dietary fiber can help protect you from overeating, as it provides a prolonged feeling of satiety. High-fiber diets have been linked to a decreased risk of obesity, and those who consume a high-fiber diet can experience weight loss.
A high-fiber, whole grain diet has been shown to lower one’s risk of developing diabetes. It can also help manage glucose levels. High-fiber foods tend to have a lower glycemic index, which can help facilitate blood sugar levels.
Diverticulitis is caused by small food particles getting stuck in tiny pockets in the colon, called diverticula, and causing infection or inflammation. A high-fiber diet can help stool move more smoothly through your colon and protect you from coming down with diverticulitis.
While the research is still ongoing, there have been some positive findings between a high-fiber diet and a lower risk of developing colorectal cancer.
You may hear that you need to add more fiber in your diet, but what does that actually mean for you? There are so many great sources of both soluble and insoluble fiber, plus we have some great tips to help you improve your fiber intake.
Start Your Day with Fiber
Get fiber in first at breakfast. Choose a high-fiber breakfast cereal that contains whole grains or bran. Cereals with the keywords “whole grain,” “fiber,” or “bran,” in their names are a great place to start. You can also add a few tablespoons of unprocessed wheat bran to your breakfast cereal.
Whole Foods for the Win
We’re not talking about the popular grocery chain here. We’re talking about starchy vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes. Next time during your grocery shopping, grab a variety of beans, whole grains, vegetables, and fruits to get a healthy helping of fiber.
Put Veggies First
A good rule of thumb is to have vegetables with every meal and always eat them first. This will help you eat more vegetables because you won’t yet be full. It’s easy to want to save your veggies for last but put your veggies first for your gut.
Go for Whole Grains
Choosing whole grains over refined grains will help increase your intake of fiber and nutrients. Choose great options like quinoa, barley, and farro when you’re reaching for a grain to go with your meal.
Take a Fiber Supplement
If you still feel like you aren’t getting enough fiber, talk to your doctor at Charleston GI about great supplement options. There are a lot out there, so take their recommendation and get the best option for you.
Maintaining a healthy gut can be difficult, but with the proper diet and other lifestyle adjustments, it can help relieve discomfort. Here at Charleston GI, our board-certified gastroenterologists are experienced in treating a wide variety of conditions relating to gut health.
We have four convenient Charleston area locations to choose from, in West Ashley, Mount Pleasant, Summerville, and Carnes Crossroads. There’s no referral needed, so schedule your appointment today, with Charleston GI!