Do you want to lower your blood sugar? How does slashing your cholesterol levels sound? Would you like to decrease your risk of colon cancer or avoid hemorrhoids? Of course, we would all love to reap these health benefits! What if I told you that achieving these aforementioned goals is actually achievable?
Importance of Fiber in Your Diet
The key to enhancing your overall health is through one of the most overlooked nutrients: Fiber. Found in both natural sources and fortified grocery items, fiber is responsible for adding bulk to your diet in order to make you feel full faster. As a result, it can aid in weight control efforts. Fiber also touts a variety of health benefits, including reducing one’s risk of diabetes, heart disease, and constipation. Experts state that women should consume at least 25 grams of fiber per day, while men should consume between 35-40 grams. Yet, the average person gets a mere 15 grams of fiber daily.
Types of Fiber
To break it down simply, there are two forms of fiber: soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber attracts water and attaches to cholesterol within the body. It then transforms into a type of “gel” during digestion, thus slowing down the digestive process. Soluble fiber can be found in: 1) Grains: barley and bran, 2)Seeds, 3)Lentils, 4) Seeds, 5) Nuts, or 6) Fruits and Vegetables. Insoluble fiber is responsible for speeding up the passage of food through the stomach and intestines. It does not dissolve in water nor does it absorb water. Therefore, it passes through the digestive tract virtually unaltered. It can be found in vegetables, whole grains, and wheat bran.
Consuming More Fiber on a Budget
For those of you who are health conscious with limited resources, fiber is one of the cheapest nutrients. This is due to its presence in various types of fruits and vegetables, such as corn, peas, artichoke, raspberries, peas, broccoli, and apples. Consuming an adequate amount of fruits and vegetables is one of the most budget-friendly ways to incorporate more fiber into your diet. Other staples that are fiber-rich and low in cost include beans, oatmeal, and whole wheat bread.
Going the Extra Mile
If you are serious about incorporating more fiber into your diet, you may be willing to invest a little more in your dietary selections. If you fall into this category, there are many other sources of fiber that are less budget-friendly. This is partly due to the processing and cost of raw materials that go into items, such as, almonds, barley, whole wheat pasta, wheat bran, and avocados. While these items certainly won’t break the bank, they are slightly higher priced than the previously mentioned high fiber foods.
Side Effects of Too Much Fiber
While including a sufficient amount of fiber into your diet can be beneficial, consuming too much can also cause health issues. Ingesting too much fiber in a short period of time can cause bloating, gas, and stomach cramps. An increase in foods that are high in fiber is often a shock to the digestive system, and these symptoms should eventually subside. As a result, it is important to introduce more fiber to your diet slowly and gradually.
Despite these potential side effects, incorporating more fiber into your diet can provide significant health benefits. Regardless of your budget, high fiber foods are a great source of nutrition for anyone who is looking to improve their overall health.