What we eat is what we are. Our physical and mental well-being is directly associated with the food we consume. The ingredients in our food are what that gets transformed into the ingredients of all our organs, tissues, cell membranes, blood, bone, bone marrow, hormones, skin, and hair. Some studies also claim that the nutrients present in food are powerful enough to alter an organism’s DNA. Hence, a fundamental understanding of all the nutrients in our food becomes imperative.
The food we consume should be a conglomerate of all the essential micro and macronutrients, making it a balanced diet. Fiber, an indigestible form of carbohydrate is one of those important nutrients to be included in our diet. Found in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes, fibers are broadly classified as soluble and insoluble fibers (both are beneficial). From lowering blood glucose levels to reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases, fiber is immensely advantageous as a healthy food source. I have highlighted the various health benefits of consuming a high-fiber diet in this article.
- Bowel health: Dietary fibers are capable of normalizing bowel movements and thereby aids in treating constipation. Fibers are found to maintain bowel health. They also help to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer and other diseases of the colon.
- Heart health: Soluble fiber present in natural food sources such as oatmeal, oat bran, apple, citrus fruits, beans, lentils, and barley can help in lowering low-density lipoprotein (LDL), which is usually called bad cholesterol. Fiber also reduces the overall cholesterol levels and eventually lowers the risk of attaining heart diseases.
- Maintenance of Blood glucose levels: A diet rich in soluble fiber can slow down the absorption of blood sugar and thus can play a significant role in maintaining blood glucose levels. Fibers (both soluble and insoluble) can reduce the risk of type-2 diabetes.
- Weight Loss: Studies prove that fiber can enable us to shed pounds. A high-fiber diet would make us feel full and satisfied for a longer period of time. Fiber binds with fat and sugar molecules as they pass through the digestive tract and therefore prevents our body from absorbing some of the calories in the food we consume. Fiber also aids us to maintain a healthier weight over a period of time.
- Longer life: Research shows that consuming fiber-laden foods can increase the life span of an individual since they reduce the risk of heart diseases, diabetes, cancer, and other diseases.
- Gut health: Human gut microbiome consists of good bacteria that improve gut health. Dietary fibers can give our microbiome a health boost allowing the gut bacteria in it to feed on it and flourish.
- Bone health: Certain types of soluble fibers (prebiotics) found in natural sources such as leeks, asparagus, soybeans, oats, and wheat have been claimed to increase the bioavailability of certain minerals such as calcium in the food and enables the maintenance of bone density.