There is a long list of excellent reasons why maintaining a high-fiber diet is one the best things you can do for yourself.
Many studies have shown that fiber plays a big role in reducing the risk of developing heart disease, Type 2 Diabetes, diverticulitis, colon cancer, breast cancer, metabolic syndrome, and constipation — in addition to the other negative outcomes that result from these conditions, such as high blood pressure, high insulin levels, excess weight, and low HDL cholesterol levels (HDL is the good kind).
So why not take a preventative approach to the future of your health? Your gut microbiome will thank you.
How Much More?
Most people assume they aren’t getting enough fiber in their diets. Although that may be true, the amount each of us needs is based on individual body composition and how many calories you consume in a day.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), healthy adults should aim to consume 14 grams of fiber per every 1,000 calories eaten. With a 2,000 calorie diet, 28 grams per day would be ideal. However, if you shoot for a range between 25 and 30 grams, the general consensus in the medical community says you’ll be on the right track.
Start Slow When Adding Fiber to Your Diet
Increasing your dietary fiber intake doesn’t have to mean buying a big box of bran. The simplest way is also the healthiest (and tastiest):
- Increase the number of whole fruits and vegetables you eat.
- Decrease how often you eat refined sugars and processed foods and replace them with whole grain products, beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
See “Eat This, Not That” for more tips on increasing fiber in your diet.
Managing the Side Effects
As you increase your fiber intake, you will want to exercise more — at least three times a week — and drink plenty of water. Both of these aid in digestion, particularly when it comes to fiber. Drinking enough water will help to decrease any side effects that may happen when you up your fiber intake—mainly gas and bloating. If you’re concerned about this, you can always gradually increase the amount of fiber you eat in a day.
This post is not intended to substitute for medical advice or prescribed medication. Especially if you have special health needs or a special diet, consult a physician before undertaking any new diet or exercise plan.
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