If there's one underrated MVP in our diet, it's fiber. Not only does it help cleanse your system more efficiently, but fiber can also aid weight loss by making you feel satisfied in fewer calories and by regulating your blood sugar levels. However, most people are missing out on these great benefits because they aren't getting nearly enough dietary fiber. According to the American Heart Association, adults are recommended to eat 25 grams of fiber per day for a 2,000-calorie diet. The average American only consumes about 16 grams each day.
Insoluble vs. Soluble Fiber
Now that we've established that fiber is an important nutrient, it's also worth distinguishing the two kinds of fiber. Insoluble fiber (found in peels and skins) doesn't dissolve in water, which promotes regularity. Soluble fiber, on the other hand (found in the actual flesh of plant-based foods), does dissolve in water and helps your body absorb vital nutrients. A healthy diet should consist of both.
If you're among the majority who need to up their daily fiber intake, incorporate more of these foods:
- Whole grains (like oats, wheat, barley, and quinoa)
- Beans and lentils
- Fruits (like avocados, berries, apples, and pears)
- Veggies (like leafy greens, onions, broccoli, carrots, and celery)
- Nuts and seeds
What Happens When You Don't Eat Enough Fiber
Fiber is known to prevent constipation, which means a lack thereof can lead to just that. More seriously, studies have shown that a high-fiber diet can effectively reduce one's chances of developing high cholesterol, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.
What Happens When You Eat Too Much
Though unlikely, overconsuming fiber on a daily basis can have adverse effects including constipation, diarrhea, bloating, dehydration, and stomach cramps.
It's also important that you drink enough water to allow fiber to do its job without causing you pain in the bathroom. If you currently don't eat enough fiber, it's best to increase your daily intake gradually and to stay hydrated.