How and why to add fiber to your diet

For some time I have dedicated myself to the task of explaining in detail some advice on health or nutrition that we frequently read or hear in our immediate environment and on social networks. One of the messages that is heard the most is that “you have to consume fiber” and that is why today I want to explain why you have to include fiber in your diets and how we can do it.

It’s when I give advice like this that questions like “How much is a lot ?”, “Why go for fiber?” , “What foods contain it”? “When to consume them and which ones are most beneficial for me?” In this article I will try to answer some of these questions.

What is dietary fiber and why include it in the diet?

First, we are going to know what dietary fiber is , a fundamental concept in the question at hand. Dietary fiber is a component found in foods of plant origin and which, among other things, is characterized by its resistance to human digestive enzymes. What interests us here about this resistance to enzymes is that, by not breaking down, dietary fiber serves to sweep and clean the digestive tract, thus helping the bacterial flora in the task of forming feces . A diet rich in fiber is considered healthy because it is prophylactic: it prevents constipation, digestive diseases, and even ailments such as Diabetes Mellitus or Colon Cancer.Another of its functions is to add volume to the diet causing a feeling of satiety , which also collaborates in the prevention and treatment of obesity.

What type of fiber should we take?

Now, how do you choose the type or amount of fiber that best suits you? Let’s start by explaining that there are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble.

Soluble fiber, as its name suggests, is the one that has the ability to dissolve in water and turn into a gel, which delays its passage through the intestine. Its main benefits are to help regulate glucose and avoid constipation.  Soluble fiber is found in foods such as oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, or barley.

Insoluble fiber is what is responsible for transporting the stool and giving it volume , so it is very useful for those who fight against problems related to irregular evacuation. Foods like whole wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts, beans, and vegetables, as well as cauliflower, green beans, and potatoes, are good sources of insoluble fiber.

Everything in excess is bad

As you will remember, in the previous article we talked about the dangers that diets based on the consumption of a single food (the Monodiets) can carry. Well, what we are discussing today only confirms what was said then, since as with any other monodiet, a diet that is excessively high in fiber can cause irreversible damage to the intestinal mucosa.

I repeat: all excess is bad. I already said it in my previous article. Naturally, dietary fiber is no exception. Therefore, although it is true that fiber provides many and great benefits to the entire body, the excess and abuse of its consumption can cause gas or cause important disorders in the absorption of vitamins and minerals. In specific cases of gastritis or irritable bowel disease , the selection of the most suitable fibers for the daily diet must be very careful, so it is highly recommended that people who suffer from these ailments choose the type of diet that best suits them following the guidelines of a professional specialized in the area.

In any case, whatever the type of fiber we include in our diet, for best results we must drink a sufficient amount of water, since water is the supplement that activates the fiber we consume every day.

Remember that it is always better to turn to a Nutrition specialist, who is the trained professional to help you design the most appropriate diet for your personal situation, the only one who can give you the diet you need.

How can we increase and improve our fiber intake?

Let’s see some tips that can be useful to increase your fiber intake:

  • Try to consume a daily amount of between five (5) and six (6) servings of fruits and vegetables , foods that in addition to providing fiber, contain vitamins and minerals.
  • Both legumes and peas, as well as beans, lentils, and other foods from the legume family , are highly beneficial in terms of dietary fiber: you can include them in your tortillas and sauces.
  • Breakfast is an ideal time to incorporate foods such as whole grains into your daily diet . My advice is to eat whole wheat bread for this first meal of the day . When you go to the supermarket, look closely at the labels and choose the foods marked as whole.
  • In your meal or lunch you can include brown rice , and use raw green vegetables as a complement to the dish (garnish). It is always better to season these vegetables with natural or homemade sauces.
  • Include nuts, peanuts, merey, carrot sticks, and cucumber in your snacks or sandwiches: this will help you control your appetite and provide you with a good amount of energy.

In conclusion, as we have already seen, fiber consumption is an excellent ally of our health. For this reason, including it in our diet will improve our performance in daily tasks and generate a greater feeling of well-being, giving us energy. We must not forget, of course, that the assimilation of dietary fiber requires adequate consumption of water , and must go hand in hand with a balanced diet and daily physical activity adapted to your body. And the most important of all, a correct evacuation, so my last advice is precisely that: never ignore those signals in your body that show the need to evacuate.

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