Having an adequate fiber intake can bring many health benefits and reduce your risk of chronic diseases. Found in foods, fibers can help in improving digestion, blood glucous levels, and lowering the risk of certain types of cancer and arthritis. Depending on the type of fiber, it also regulates blood sugar, helps with weight control and reduces constipation symptoms.
Seeing how essential dietary fiber is and the various health benefits it brings, here’s some quick, easy ways to incorporate fibrous foods into your daily diet with minimal effort.
- Snack on fruits
Individual pieces of fruit make great snacks and they are portable and tasty. Some fruits have significantly more fiber than others. High-fiber fruits include apples, berries and pears. They can also be paired with foods that contain protein and/or fat such as cheese or nut butter, and improve fullness.
- Eat the veggies first in meals
Vegetables are full of minerals, vitamins and fiber and offer plenty of health benefits including lowering your risk of several chronic diseases. It is a good strategy to eat your vegetables before a meal so you are able to eat more of them. Non-starchy vegetables such as artichokes, baby corn, Chinese spinach and carrots are high in nutrients and fiber while being low in calories.
- Choose whole grains over refined grains
Due to the fact that whole grains are minimally processed, they are still intact with their germ, bran and hull, making them more nutritious. On the other hand, refined grains are only left with a fast-absorbing carb with the most nutritious parts taken away. Replace the refined grains with whole-grain versions in your diet, such as whole-wheat pasta or whole-wheat bread. You can also try oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, millet and barley.
- Snack on nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds make for a heart-healthy snacks and are full of beneficial nutrients, protein and fiber. They are also versatile foods and shelf-stable, making them ideal to snack on during the day. They can also be added in recipes to add extra fiber and nutrition to your meals.
- Include beans and legumes in your diet
Legumes and beans contain a wide variety of nutrients and they are rich in fiber, vitamins, protein and minerals. They also have a positive impact on the gut microbiome and may reduce the risk of chronic disease. For example, a cup of cooked beans can meet up to 75% of your daily fiber requirements. Try chickpeas, soybeans, lentils, alfafa, tamarind, red kidney beans and lupins.
You can adopt the strategies mentioned above to help boost your fiber intake to optimal amounts. Having a balanced intake is crucial so you can receive the benefits for your health. You can also consult with a dietitian or gastroenterology specialist in Singapore to learn more about incorporating more dietary fiber and boost your gut health.
This article is written by Dr Chong Chern Hao, He is a gastroenterologist in Singapore specializing in various gastrointestinal disorder and liver disease.