Why Fiber is an Important Part of a Balanced Diet

Dietary fiber is always a big part of any conversation regarding health and nutrition, and for good reason — fiber is an extremely important part of your daily diet. This couldn’t be more true in today’s world, where our eating habits are changing regularly, and not always for the best. As our meal choices move farther away from fruits and vegetables, it’s important to eat foods that are high in fiber, as well as add fiber supplements into your diet when necessary.

What is Fiber?

The words “dietary fiber” may conjure up images of edible thread or twine, and under a microscope, strands of the fiber protein do in fact look much like twine. When ingested, many insoluble fibers absorb water and can simultaneously relieve constipation and and decrease the symptoms of diarrhea. Dietary fiber has also been shown to curb hunger and overall food consumption. Not only that, but there is evidence that regular fiber intake can reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and type II diabetes.

How Much Do You Need Per Day?

In general, it is recommended that women consume about 25g of fiber per day to stay healthy, while men should get around 30g. People who are not used to consuming large amounts of fiber should gradually start with lower quantities and work their way up.

Common Foods With High Fiber Contents

Finding foods that contain a good amount of fiber — and that you also like to eat — is the first step to eating better. Eating fruits and vegetables with the skin left on, such as apples and potatoes, increases your intake of fiber. Cooking with unprocessed whole grains like wild or brown rice is also a great way to add fiber to your diet.

Below are several common foods that are high in fiber, accompanied by the amount of fiber per serving:

Banana – 1 medium sized, 3.1g

Apple – 1 medium sized, 4.4g

Peas – 1 cup, 8.8g

Spinach – 1 cup, 4.0g

Beans and lentils – 1 cup, 11.6g-15.6g (depending on the type)

Oatmeal – 1 cup, 4.0g

Peanuts – 1 cup, 12.4g

Brown rice – 1 cup, 3.5g

You can also look into fiber supplements, which typically include psyllium, methylcellulose, wheat dextrin, or calcium polycarbophil. Check the label on the bottle to see how much fiber each supplement contains to make sure you’re getting what you need.

While fiber isn’t the only important component of a balanced diet, it is essential to maintaining intestinal health and regular bowel movements. These tips should help you ensure that you’re getting the right amount daily!

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