Fiber has nothing to do with calories or exercise in general, but fiber rich foods are associated with significant reductions in cardiovascular disease risk. There is dietary fiber and functional fiber. Your body needs both.
The National Academies Press defines the two fibers this way: "Dietary Fiber consists of nondigestible carbohydrates and lignin that are intrinsic and intact in plants. Functional Fiber consists of isolated, nondigestible carbohydrates that have beneficial physiological effects in humans." Both fibers work together to help digestion. Basically, fiber is an indigestible carbohydrate. It's a plant food that your body can't digest or absorb. Foods high in fiber generally take longer to digest and this make us feel fuller longer.
Fiber in the diet helps speed the food up and doesn't allow it to sit as long in the intestines. At the same time, without acting as a garbage compactor, fiber keeps the load together as it moves downward. Fiber also helps the intestines keep the tunnel walls free of growths and impairments.
Constipation and gas may occur with a sudden increase of fiber in a diet, so it's important to combine liquids with high fiber meals. If you haven't been eating much fiber, begin slowly and add a few grams a week to enable your body to get used to it. Muscles need to be trained to work more efficiently.
The Micronutrient Information Center at the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University reports that "Dietary fiber intakes of approximately 14g for every 1,000 calories were associated with significant reduction in the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) as well as type 2 diabetes."
Here are five suggestions for increasing fiber intake:
1. Eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily.
2. Substitute whole grains for refined grains.
3. Eat oatmeal, whole-grain cereal, or bran cereal for breakfast.
4. Eat beans, split peas, or lentils at least once weekly.
5. Substitute nuts or popcorn for less healthful snacks like potato chips or candy.
Fiber gives intestines a workout as they absorb the body's needed nutrients and the result is a decrease in the risk of cardiovascular disease or type 2 diabetes. Not bad for eating something that can't even be digested.
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