Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Benefits of a High Fiber Diet

A diet high in fiber is important for many reasons. Adequate amounts of fiber are essential to good health. It keeps your digestive system working smoothly, helps elimination from the body and is rich in vitamins and nutrients.

An increased amount of fiber can also help you feel fuller longer, which is important if you’re watching your weight.

A study conducted at the Harvard School of Medicine found that men who consumed 12 grams of fiber a day were twice as likely to develop precancerous colon changes as men whose daily fiber intake was 30 grams or higher. Scientist are not exactly sure why fiber can help reduce the risks of colon cancer but it is thought that insoluble fiber adds bulk to stools, which helps speed their transit through the intestines, leaving less time for carcinogenic changes.

Other studies have shown that adequate levels of fiber can also help against breast cancer, heart disease, digestive disorders, diabetes and obesity. If you suffer from constipation, increasing your fiber content should help. It also helps to drink adequate amounts of water daily to help the fiber through your system.

An easy way to start the day with an adequate amount of fiber is to have a fiber-rich breakfast cereal and some fruit. Vegetables and fruits are also high in fiber and also many other important nutrients.

Most people tend to eat breads and cereals which are very low in fiber. Even some brown bread varieties only have a small amount so it’s best to check labels and make sure you’re getting a natural whole grain product with sufficient fiber.

Now that you know all the benefits of adding fiber to your diet, here are some quick tips to help you increase your fiber intake:
  • Eat vegetables with every meal.
  • Switch from processed carbohydrates such as white bread and pasta to whole grains (these are higher in fiber and nutrients).
  • Add beans to casseroles, chili or many other foods. Beans are an especially good source of fiber.
  • Snack on fruit with it’s skin on. Fruits like berries are particularly high in fiber and apples and pears should be eaten with the peel on.
  • Eat dried fruits such as prunes, figs, and apricots. These are easy to sprinkle on cereal or add to homemade muffins.

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