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Nutritional benefits of adding fiber to your daily diet

Published 9:39am Friday, February 15, 2013

As a nutritionist, it’s not only my job to make sure clients make progress, but also to educate them on how to stay healthy. One portion of a healthy diet I teach them about is fiber. Just what is fiber, and why do we need it?

Dietary fiber is commonly known as “roughage.” It includes all parts of plant stuffs that our bodies can’t digest. Proteins, fats and carbohydrates are all broken down and absorbed by the body.

Fiber remains intact as it passes from the stomach, through the small and large intestines. Fiber is usually put into one of two categories.

“Soluble” fiber: fiber that dissolves in water. “Insoluble” fiber: fiber that doesn’t dissolve in water. Soluble fiber becomes gel-like once it absorbs water.

This type of fiber is found in apples, barley, peas, carrots, citrus fruits, oats, pears, plums, black beans, navy beans, northern, and pinto beans, broccoli and Brussels sprouts.

Soluble fiber helps lower blood glucose, and cholesterol levels, too. Lowered blood glucose levels help reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Lower cholesterol levels help reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease.

“Insoluble” fiber creates  bulk and helps movement of materials through the digestive system. It is beneficial to those who battle with constipation.

This type of fiber is found in nuts, wheat bran, whole wheat flour, corn bran, green beans, potatoes with their skins, legumes and cauliflower.

As a rule, vegetables contain more insoluble fiber and fruits contain more soluble fiber.

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