Many of us hear about the importance of eating a high fiber diet but do not know why it is advantageous to our health. The reason a high fiber diet is so beneficial is because it has been proven to provide digestive benefits, lower cholesterol, and reduce the risk of chronic illnesses such as diabetes. Many fruits and vegetables naturally contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber has a gel-like consistency and is found in foods like berries, legumes, nuts, oatmeal, citrus fruits, and brussels sprouts. Insoluble fiber is found in high amounts in similar foods including berries, corn, green vegetables, legumes, and whole grains.
Soluble and insoluble fiber play different roles in the digestive system.
Soluble fiber slows down your digestive process which helps to stabilize your blood sugar and causes you to feel full for a longer period of time after a meal. Insoluble fiber does not digest in your body. Insoluble fiber increases the bulk of your stool which makes it easier for your body to eliminate solid waste. Many of the foods that are rich in soluble fiber are also rich in insoluble fiber.
Additional health benefits of a high fiber diet include a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke, a decreased risk of hemorrhoids, more normalized bowel movements, and a reduced risk of developing diverticular disease. Fiber helps to maintain a healthy weight because it aids in regulating appetite. Fiber also slows down the absorption of sugar in the food that you eat, which in turn, can improve your blood sugar levels.
If you have been having gastrointestinal problems such as: irregularity, constipation, hemorrhoids or watery stools, changing to a high fiber diet may be very beneficial. It is best to speak with a doctor regarding any diet change prior to starting one.