Do you know that eating fiber has many health benefits such as lowering the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and better weight control? Fiber contained in whole grain foods, fruits, vegetables, and beans is from where these benefits are derived. Fiber and its associated weight loss benefits are the focus of this article.
Fiber, a Carbohydrate?
I’m sure most of you reading this have heard many times how fiber can make you healthier in a variety of ways, but do you know that fiber is a carbohydrate? In fact, in some circles, fiber is considered the “good carbohydrate” because it’s neither a starch nor a simple carbohydrate. Simply put, foods high in starches (those containing whole wheat flour, for example) provide much energy but can cause weight gain if overeaten, while simple carbs like those from eating fruit provide a quick and short lived energy boost. Fiber, on the other hand, is not digested and mined for its nutrients in the usual way. Instead, it’s delivered through the body unchanged until it reaches the colon, where it is broken down. This breakdown, or fermentation, is the reason we hear that fiber is good for colon health.
Fiber and Losing Weight
You may be wondering how fiber can help you lose weight because of its association with “filling foods.” As one who embraces food rich in fiber, I know that eating fiber rich foods tend to make me feel fuller quicker and less hungry for longer periods. This by itself helps to reduce the amount of food I eat, which naturally helps me keep my weight in check. What kinds of food are high in fiber? I enjoy eating nuts, “my veggies”, and whole wheat bread. But, my main source of fiber is from whole grains and beans. All kinds of beans. I love beans! But, the list of high fiber foods is fairly full (pun intended). Fruits like apples, grapefruit, and raspberries are great sources of fiber. Vegetables such as avocado, peas, and baked potatoes along with beans and nuts are all excellent sources as well. To round out my discussion about fiber, I think one final note about the types of fiber is in order.
Types of Fiber
You may be familiar with the terms, soluble and insoluble fiber, but what are the differences? Insoluble fiber helps move “bulk” through the intestines and controls its balance of pH (acid), which helps prevent colon cancer. Insoluble fiber also keeps your bowl movements regular and helps prevent constipation. Soluble fiber is what keeps you feeling full longer by releasing sugar more slowly. This process is also known for lowering your level of LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol), while regulating sugar levels within your body. As you can see, the health benefits from eating fiber are many! Supplements vs. Fiber from FoodOne last bit of advice about fiber. Rather than use supplements to get your necessary fiber, which is what many people do, you should instead eat a handful of peanuts or raisins to get your fiber. Getting your daily requirement of fiber from food is your best choice.
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