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  • Guang Chen

Dietary fiber

Dietary fiber, also known as roughage, includes the parts of plant foods your body can’t digest or absorb. Unlike other food components, such as fats, proteins, or carbohydrates — which your body breaks down and absorbs — fiber isn’t digested by your body. Fiber is however an important source of food for our gut bacteria (microbiome).

Sources of fiber include:

  • Whole grains: Oats, brown rice, quinoa, and whole wheat.

  • Legumes: Split peas, lentils, and beans.

  • Vegetables: Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and carrots.

  • Fruits: Raspberries, apples, and pears.

  • Seeds: Chia seeds and flaxseeds.

Dietary fiber serves several roles (effects will vary between individuals):

  1. Promoting Digestive Health:

  • Soluble fiber absorbs water and forms a gel-like substance in your intestines. This softens stool, making it easier to pass and preventing constipation.

  • Insoluble fiber adds bulk to stool, aiding regular bowel movements.

  1. Managing Blood Sugar Levels:

  • Soluble fiber slows down the absorption of sugar, helping regulate blood glucose levels.

  1. Lowering Cholesterol:

  • Soluble fiber binds to cholesterol in the digestive tract, reducing its absorption and promoting heart health.

  1. Weight Management:

  • High-fiber foods are often less calorie-dense and more filling, helping control appetite.

Remember to gradually increase your fiber intake to avoid digestive discomfort, and aim for a balanced diet that includes both soluble and insoluble fiber.

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