Fiber: A Key to Good Health and a Long Life

We’ve written before about maintaining a healthy diet, eating more vegetables and swapping junk foods for more nutritious options, but this week, we want to focus on one particular nutrient: fiber.

If you’re like most people, you probably know that fiber is good for you, but aren’t quite sure why. Well, fiber is basically a blanket term that describes any carbohydrate that your body cannot digest. But the fact that our bodies don’t turn it into fuel doesn’t mean it isn’t important to overall health. When fiber leaves our stomachs, it goes to the colon, where it provides food for friendly gut bacteria. This can lead to a host of benefits, including:

Reducing Cholesterol

Fiber in the digestive tract can cut down on the amount of cholesterol your body absorbs. It increases your levels of good cholesterol while reducing the bad. This in turn can create benefits for your heart, including lowering your blood pressure and reducing inflammation.

Encouraging Healthy Digestion

Diets that are high in fiber reduce your risk of colorectal cancer and can even prevent other diseases that impact the colon.

Promoting Healthy Weight

Fiber can slow down the digestion process, making you feel fuller for longer after you eat it. Fruits and veggies are loaded with fiber and generally lower in calories than other types of food, making them an excellent, filling choice for losing weight.

Getting enough fiber each day is important, but what’s the right amount? Women under 50 should eat about 25 grams of fiber a day. Men under 50 should aim for 38 grams daily. If you are over 50, aim for 21 grams if you are a woman and 30 grams if you are a man.

Some of our favorite fiber-rich foods include obvious choices like fruits and vegetables, but other foods can be great sources as well. Try oats, kidney beans, chickpeas, chia seeds and even popcorn to get a good dose of fiber!

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