The American Heart Association’s Eating Plan suggests consuming a variety of sources of dietary fiber. The total intake of dietary fiber should be 25 to 30 grams per day from food, not supplements. Currently, adults consume around 15 grams per day, which is about half of the recommended amount. Here are some benefits that will convince you to include more sources of fiber.
- Promotes a diverse and healthy gut microbiota
Fiber cannot be digested, and when it reaches the large intestine, it is fermented by bacteria and becomes food for good bacteria. By consuming fiber, we are nourishing the good bacteria in our gut. Having a diverse and healthy gut microbiota benefits the immune system and contributes to good health. Conversely, having an imbalance of healthy and unhealthy microbes in the intestines can contribute to weight gain, high cholesterol, and hyperglycemia.
- Promotes regular bowel movements
If you experience diarrhea too frequently or, on the contrary, suffer from constipation, fiber can help prevent both uncomfortable issues. There are several types of fiber. Fiber found in whole grains is excellent for increasing bowel movements as this type of fiber helps increase the volume of stools while keeping them soft. On the other hand, fiber found in foods like bananas absorbs liquids and can help reduce diarrhea.
- Keeps you full for longer periods of time
Fiber slows down gastric emptying and takes longer to digest than other nutrients, so one advantage of including fiber is that you will feel fuller for a longer period of time.
- Helps lower high blood pressure
Studies show that consuming enough fiber can help improve blood pressure in individuals with hypertension.
- Balances cholesterol levels
A type of fiber called “viscous fiber” traps excess bile and cholesterol in the intestine, which our body then eliminates through feces. Consuming fiber can help reduce cholesterol levels.
- Prevents blood sugar spikes
Consuming fiber with other foods (e.g. carbohydrates) causes the foods to be digested and absorbed more slowly and steadily, preventing blood sugar spikes.
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