Most of us know from conversations with our physicians that fiber is a vital ingredient to a healthy body. Consuming foods high in fiber is good for our health and will help regulate bowel movements. But many of us do not know how to go about starting a high fiber diet, why it is good for us, or even how much fiber to consume each day.
Consider these little-known facts on high fiber diets:
Most Americans eat less than half of the daily-recommended value.
Depending on age, women should eat about 21-25 grams of fiber per day and men should consume 30-38 grams daily. However, the majority of American only consume about 10-15 grams of fiber on a daily basis, so at your next meal, don’t be afraid to load up on the beans!
Like any major dietary shift, it is best to ease into the change.
Doctors recommend slowly increasing one’s daily intake of fiber over time because eating too much fiber too fast, can lead to uncomfortable cramps and gas. Additionally, pairing the gradual increase with adequate intake of water (about eight 8-oz glasses a day) will help the fiber move through one’s digestive system.
Fiber can help reduce many pregnancy complications.
Not only does a diet rich in fiber help to decrease spells of constipation among pregnant women, it also greatly reduces the risk of preeclampsia by lowering blood pressure. One study found that women who ate just over 21 grams of fiber per day decreased their risk of developing preeclampsia by 72 percent.
People with chronic conditions, such as diabetes benefit greatly from high fiber diets.
Fiber helps to regulate blood sugar by slowing down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. This also helps to decrease risk of developing gallstones and kidney stones among diabetics. Diets high in fiber are also good for heart health. Consuming fiber may help to lower the level of LDL (the bad cholesterol) and reduce blood pressure.
High fiber diets can help decrease the risk and severity of stroke.
A recent study found that risk of stroke decreased by 7% for every 7 gram increase of daily fiber consumption. This is especially important for those with stroke risk factors such as obesity and smoking habits.
Vegetables such as avocado, beans, sweet potato, spinach and broccoli are known for their high fiber content. Start improving your overall health by slowly incorporating fiber into your diets.