Dietary fibers and Health: a very good team!

Friday, February 8, 2013

We all know that dietary fibers are a nutrient that is very important to have a good health; but it is also a misunderstood nutrient. So let’s see its “ID card”.

There are two main types of fiber: soluble vs insoluble.
Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water: soluble fiber does. We can find both in plants we eat: vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes are rich in dietary fibers. 
Although they pass through our system undigested, they are very important for health and play a major role in diseases prevention. Indeed, many scientific research have shown that fibers can help to avoid or to better control diabetes, heart conditions, obesity and also constipation.

Soluble fiber:
Dissolving in water, it forms a gel-like material in your intestine which slows down digestion: the empting of your stomach is delayed and makes you feel full for a longer time than other nutrients. It affects your blood sugar levels and has a beneficial effect on insulin sensitivity. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas: it helps lowering down blood sugar which may have a positive effect on diabetes control. It also reduces LDL blood cholesterol.

Where can I find soluble fibers?
Oatmeal, lentils, apples, oranges, pears, oat bran, strawberries, barley, nuts, flaxseeds, beans, dried peas, blueberries, psyllium, cucumbers, celery, carrots, citrus fruits.

Insoluble fiber:
It is particularly important for our colon: it promotes the movement of material through your digestive system, it has a laxative effect because it adds bulk to the diet so it can be of benefit for those who suffer from constipation. 

Where can I find insoluble fibers?
Whole wheat, whole grains, wheat bran, corn bran, seeds, nuts, barley, couscous, brown rice, bulgur, zucchini, celery, broccoli, cabbage, onions, tomatoes, cauliflower, carrots, cucumbers, green beans, dark leafy vegetables, potatoes, grapes, fruit, and root vegetable skins

A high-fiber diet has many advantages:

  • It lowers the risk of developing hemorrhoids.
  • It helps controlling cholesterol and sugar blood levels.
  • It helps controlling your weight
  • It prevents constipation.
  • Studies have shown that it may help preventing bowel cancer.
  1. Prefer whole fruit instead of juices.
  2. Eat a vegetarian meal at least three times a week.
  3. Add seeds and nuts in your salads and soups.
  4. Add legumes and vegetables to all your meals.
  5. Add whole-grain products in your recipes.
  6. Avoid refined or processed foods, white breads and pasta.
  7. Choose organic fruits and do not remove the skin.
  8. Make snacks with raw vegetables.

In our way of eating, we lack dietary fibers; so it is important to start to change our habits. Try to increase the amount of fiber in your meals but do it gradually to avoid bloating and discomfort.

The rules to follow to increase the amount of fiber in your diet:

For those who are fond of smoothies, let’s try these two recipes:

Almond and Spinach smoothie:
½ cup almond milk
½ cup soya milk
2 hands spinach
½ banana
½ cup pineapple
4 nuts

Put all the ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth. Serve in a large glass full of crushed ice.

Avocado and strawberry smoothie:
1 avocado (peeled)
½ cup strawberries
½ cup oat milk
½ cup almond milk
1 tablespoon honey
4 ice cubes

Put all the ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth. Serve in a large glass.


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