The Importance of Dietary Fiber: Are You Getting Enough of the Right Type?

Dietary fiber has been a popular topic in regard to weight loss and health for quite some time, so you probably already know at least some of its benefits, but you may not know just how important it really is – or which types of foods you should be eating to get it.

Most people think that by eating whole wheat bran muffins or cereal that they get enough fiber, but adding more whole grains to your diet actually promotes insulin and leptin resistance which can result in all types of health conditions as well as weight gain.

The recommended daily amount of fiber is 20 to 30 grams, although according to leading natural health expert,  Dr. Mercola, 32 grams is closer to the ideal number. Even though most people eat a diet that is very high in grains, they’re getting only half that amount or even less, he says. The problem is that the best source of dietary fiber is vegetables, and most people don’t eat enough.

Soluble fiber, which is found in foods like nuts, blueberries and cucumbers, helps to slow digestion, making you feel fuller longer, which is just one reason fiber can help with weight control.

Insoluble fiber, found in dark green leafy veggies, celery, and carrots, helps to add bulk to the stool and allow food to move quicker through the digestive tract for healthy elimination. Some whole foods, mainly fruits and vegetables, contain both soluble and insoluble fiber.

Getting enough fiber offers a wide range of health benefits, including:

  • Better cardiovascular health
  • Weight management
  • Blood sugar control
  • Better skin
  • Decreased risk of stroke
  • Lowered risk of hemorrhoids, irritable bowel syndrome, gallstones and kidney stones

Unfortunately, getting your fiber from grains can actually harm your health as the high-fiber bran portion of grain, which is what makes it a whole grain, actually contains anti-nutrients.

Gliadin and lectins, which are substances found in grain, can increase leaky gut syndrome which causes all types of digestive problems such as gas, bloating and abdominal cramps. It can also result in other symptoms like allergies, fatigue, joint pain, skin rashes, mental disturbances and much more.

On the other hand, a diet that includes plenty of high fiber veggies like berries, peas, cauliflower, broccoli, and sweet potatoes as well as almonds, flax and chia seeds, will help improve gut health, keep your appetite under control, and it may even help heart patients live longer.

One recent study found that those who ate the most fiber had a 25 percent decreased risk of dying from any cause compared to those who didn’t get enough fiber. Those who increased fiber consumption after suffering a myocardial infarction were also able to reduce their risk of dying from any cause, including further heart-related events.

nuts and seedsThe bottom line is that you’ll reap a wide range of benefits from consuming dietary fiber, as long as it’s coming from organic vegetables, nuts and seeds rather than processed grains which promote chronic disease and do nothing for your health.

It’s just one more reason to give up those “junk” foods and add more veggies to your diet. If you have an aversion to vegetables, adding them to a smoothie can help make it easier to feed your body what it needs.

-The Alternative Daily

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