Digestive health ensures a large number of human bodily functions work properly. In order for the digestive system to work at an optimal level, it must maintain regular fiber intake. Fiber is the part of a plant that the body cannot break down and absorb. Instead, it passes through the body to help eliminate waste.
People who regularly suffer from digestive conditions like constipation or diarrhea typically don't have enough fiber in their diet. Fiber keeps stools bulky enough to pass without being too firm. The benefit of fiber extends beyond the ability to pass bowels. Regular fiber intake also has benefits. It improves heart health. The soluble fiber regulates good cholesterol levels by minimizing LDL levels, which is considered the bad cholesterol. Fiber also lowers blood pressure and reduces the risk of a stroke. Fiber improves skin health by eliminating the toxins that trigger breakouts and inflammation. It also helps reduce the effects of type 2 diabetes risk by regulating sugar levels. Anyone can increase their daily fiber intake with the right foods.
Whole grains is one of the most healthy options for consuming fiber. Whole grains also contain nutrients like protein, B vitamins, and magnesium. People who are at risk or have cancer are often recommended to consume whole grains to reduce their symptoms. If possible, start the day with whole grain option like cereal or unprocessed wheat bran. Other fiber-rich whole grains include:
- Brown rice
- Wild rice
People with a whole grain sensitivity should speak to their doctor about which of these whole grains are appropriate to consume.
Fruits and Vegetables
Doctors recommend daily consumption of fruits and vegetables for a good reason. Something as simple as eating an apple or banana can provide up to four grams of fiber. Common fiber-rich fruits and vegetables include:
Health experts recommend consuming dark leafy greens to fulfill daily fiber intake goals. Studies show the darker the hue of the vegetable, the more fiber it contains. Cooking vegetables is a great way to eat fiber, however it’s also a good idea to blend fibrous fruits and vegetables into a smoothie. Since heating reduces produce’s nutrient content, blending helps retain their nutrients in their natural form.
Beans and Legumes
People often make the correlation between legumes and heart health as well as flatulence. Health experts recommend eating legumes because a cup can provide up to ten grams of fiber. Depending on the age of the person taking fiber, a cup of beans equals nearly half of their daily fiber intake requirements. When it comes to beans, navy and white beans have the highest amount of fiber. Other fiber-packed beans and legumes include:
- Garbanzo beans
- Split peas
- Kidney beans
- Mung beans
Adding beans to soups or chili with other vegetables is a great way to pack a meal with fiber-rich nutrients.
Nuts and Seeds
Not only are nuts and seeds great for overall heart health, they also have a good amount of fiber and other benefits. Eating a couple ounces of nuts can provide four grams of daily fiber. Trail mix, which is a blend of dried fruits and nuts, provides even more grams of fiber. Nuts and seeds to consume to increase fiber include:
- Chia seeds
- Sunflower seeds
- Dried coconut
- Squash seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
Be sure to not overindulge in nuts. Although they contain healthy fats, eating too many can have adverse side effects. Since all of the content in nuts isn’t absorbed by the body, consuming too many leads to digestive issues like constipation, gas, and bloating. It can also lead to weight gain, so they’re best eaten in moderation.
Fiber does more than aid regular bowel movements. Healthy adults should consume between 21 and 38 grams of fiber each day. Therefore, incorporating the previously mentioned foods into everyday meal plans is essential.
In addition to consuming more fiber, it is also important to increase water intake. Water helps bind and soften waste and to make it easier to eliminate bowels. People with allergies or an intolerance to these foods should speak to a doctor for recommendations.