There are many benefits from eating dietary fiber and there are 3 foods that are great sources.
Dietary fiber doesn’t often doesn’t always get the recognition it deserves as part of a balanced diet. While fiber does not provide us with energy (calories) like most carbohydrates, protein, and fat, it is still an important part of a meal. Fiber from fruits and vegetables promotes a healthy digestive tract, where they act as prebiotics, helping to keep our gastrointestinal (GI) system healthy and regular with smoother, consistent bowel movements.
Dietary fibers serve as food for healthy gut bacteria which play a crucial role in digestion, drug metabolism, gut inflammation, immune function, and even behavior (3).
Water-soluble fibers, in specific, are also known to help lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce our risk for different forms of vascular disease. Getting a good amount of fiber in your diet can help prevent and relieve symptoms of constipation. Adequate water consumption throughout the day is also recommended to help your body absorb the fibers most effectively.
Fiber is found in a wide range of foods, from fruits and veggies to nuts and seeds, but unfortunately, not all sources are created equal. Not only do different foods have different amounts of fiber but eating them as close to their natural state is also the most desirable. Since many refining processes can strip the fiber out of the foods, it is recommended to get your fiber intake from unprocessed and whole foods if possible. You don’t have to completely omit your favorites though! Brown rice and whole-grain flours are a great way to add more fiber to your diet without sacrificing taste.
Beans are one of nature’s greatest sources of fiber are incredibly affordable, are easy to cook and store for a long time; try cooking some in a skillet with a splash of olive oil, some chopped onions & garlic, finish with 2 eggs on the side for a hearty breakfast that will keep you on your feet until lunchtime!
Another amazing source of fiber for breakfast is steel-cut oats. They are not only more tasty than regular oatmeal, with their nutty flavor, but they also have a lower glycemic index to help stabilize sugar and insulin. Steel-cut oats are also known to help with heart health because of the high fiber and nutrient content. Oat is surrounded by an outer layer referred to as the bran. This layer is mostly fiber and vitamins.
With processing as in rolled or quick oats, this valuable layer of bran is mostly lost, for this reason, steel-cut oats are more desirable for their fiber content. This high fiber content also means fewer calories, making them a healthy, yet filling breakfast. Studies have even shown that children and teens who eat them regularly have lower cases of obesity! (2)
Some find it difficult to consume the natural foods that provide all the necessary nutrients a healthy body needs, so supplements may be beneficial in some cases to provide your body with the missing nutrients you might not be getting from your regular diet. Always research your supplements before taking them.
You should also be aware, consuming too much fiber in a short period of time can lead to excess gas and bloating, making you feel worse off. Mayo Clinic recommends gradually increasing the fiber in your diet over the course of a couple of weeks, which allows the natural bacteria in your body to adjust properly. Consulting with a registered dietitian is the quickest, most accurate way to nail down exactly what foods your body needs to thrive and achieve your nutrition goals. Optimize your health and connect with a nutritionist today. Remember 3 great sources of dietary fiber are: beans, steel-cut oats, and brown rice.
- O’Neil, C.E., Nicklas, T.A., Fulgoni, V.L., & DiRienzo, M.A. (2015). Cooked oatmeal consumption is associated with better diet quality, better nutrient intakes, and reduced risk for central adiposity and obesity in children 2-18 years: NHANES 2001-2010. Food and Nutrition Research, 59.
- F, M. K. (2018, June 13). The Impact of Dietary Fiber on Gut Microbiota in Host Health and Disease. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29902436/