Many people are aware that eating more fiber can help relieve constipation or diarrhea. However, a high-fiber diet is beneficial to everyone. Dietary fiber refers to two types of fiber found in plant-based foods.
All plant-based foods contain dietary fiber, including grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes. Although it is classified as a carbohydrate, dietary fiber differs from other carbohydrates in that it is not broken down into sugar molecules.
Fiber that is soluble in water
Water can dissolve soluble fiber. Oats, beans, nuts, peas, lentils and barley contain this type of fiber, fruits such as apples, blueberries, grapes, and citrus.
As soluble fiber passes the digestive tract, it absorbs water and transforms into a gel-like substance. It relieves diarrhea by absorbing excess water, firming up the consistency of the stool, and slowing the rate at which food moves inside the digestive tract.
Soluble fiber is also important in the digestion of sugars and starches by the body. It produces short-chain fatty acids that signal the liver to stop producing glucose.
Fiber that is insoluble
Insoluble fiber is fiber that will not dissolve in water. Insoluble fiber adds weight to the stool as it passes through the digestive tract. Even though it is not a laxative, insoluble fiber produces digestive tract motility, which can relieve constipation and encourage the timely elimination of wastes in the colon.
Insoluble fiber can be found in wheat, rye, brown rice, and nuts, as well as plant cell walls. Green vegetables, as well as the skins and peels of most fruits and vegetables, are high in insoluble fiber, which is found in plant walls.
Dietary fiber also aids in weight loss and obesity prevention. Because foods high in dietary fiber make you feel more satisfied and full, you may eat less, resulting in weight loss over time.
How to Increase Your Fiber Consumption
Increase your consumption of plant-based foods to increase your daily fiber intake. Keep in mind that gradually increasing fiber intake may be preferable to avoiding cramping, bloating, or gas, which can occur when too much fiber is added too quickly.
1. Season soups and salads with kidney, pinto, or black beans.
2. Stir wheat bran or oats into yogurt or smoothies, as well as muffins, cakes, or cookies.
3. Aim for five servings of fruits and vegetables per day, preferring fresh or frozen over canned (canned fruits are lower in fiber).
4. Select a breakfast cereal that lists whole grains as the first ingredient.
5. Snack on dried fruits and nuts or granola bars with added fiber.
6. Substitute whole-grain products and brown rice for white rice, bread, and pasta.