What is dietary fiber

Fiber is the type of carbohydrates which is derived mostly from plant cell and is not digested by enzymes in digestive track. Although not absorbed by the body , fiber is an extremely important nutrient with many health benefits. The daily recommended allowance of fiber is 30 grams for a healthy adult.

Benefits of dietary fiber

  • Fiber in diet help to keep your digestive system run smoothly and prevents constipation by regulating bowel movement.
  • A high fiber diet lower the risk of hemorrhoids and aids in the treatment of piles.
  • Soluble fiber in vegetables, legumes oats and flaxseed inhibits and delay absorption of glucose and cholesterol and helps to lower their blood levels.
  • Fiber also aids in weight management as fiber containing foods are digested slowly and make one feel full for longer periods of time.

How to increase fiber intake

  1. Replace refined carbohydrates with whole grains. Use whole grains cereals, bread and chapatti instead of refined carbohydrates as they are natural source of fiber. Try starting your day with whole grain porridge or bread. Consume at least half of your carbohydrates as whole grains. Examples of whole grains are, oatmeal, whole wheat, brown rice, barley and popcorn.
  2. Consume variety fresh fruits, for example apples, strawberries,prunes, pears and oranges . Use them as a snack or with meals.
  3. Beans , peas and legumes are rich source of fiber. Try adding one serving of any of these in a day.
  4. Vegetables are the healthiest of all food groups and great source of fiber. It is essential to add 5-8 servings of fruits,vegetables and legumes in daily diet.
  5. Use whole wheat grains instead of refined flour in your home baking.
  6. Psyllium husk (isapghol) is an excellent source of fiber. 1tbsp of husk daily helps to relieve constipation, diarrhoea and helps to lower cholesterol.

High fiber foods are good for health, but excessive fiber intake can promote intestinal gas, bloating and abdominal cramping. It is essential to increase fiber gradually in your diet. Drink plenty of water as it helps in absorption of fiber and increases stool weight.