Fiber: The Powerhouse Nutrient
Dietary fiber is a type of carbohydrate that your body cannot fully digest, so it passes through your digestive system mostly intact. There are two types of fiber: insoluble and soluble. Insoluble fiber helps move food through your digestive system and promotes regular bowel movements. Soluble fiber helps lower cholesterol and control blood sugar levels. Both these fibers can be found in plenty of whole grain foods, fruits, and vegetables.
Fiber is especially important for weight management because foods high in fiber are often low in calories and can help you feel full. Whole grain bread will make you feel fuller than white bread because of the increased fiber content in whole grain bread. Fiber also slows down the digestion of carbohydrates, which can help control blood sugar levels and prevent spikes in insulin.
Constipation can be uncomfortable and even painful. Eating a diet high in fiber can help keep your digestive system moving smoothly, preventing constipation and promoting regular bowel movements. However, it is important to be drinking plenty of water when consuming a high fiber diet, or there will be minimal improvement in regularity.
Finally, fiber is important for heart health. Soluble fiber can help lower cholesterol levels by binding to cholesterol in the digestive system and preventing it from being absorbed into the bloodstream. This can help prevent the buildup of plaque in the arteries, which can lead to heart disease. Foods high in fiber are also often high in other heart-healthy nutrients, such as healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals (nuts are a great example of this).
Examples of high fiber foods:
Berries (all kinds)
Nuts (all kinds)
Whole wheat pasta/whole wheat bread