People choose plant-based diet plans because of the many health benefits associated with them. For instance, consuming more whole foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains reduces the risk of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and colon cancer. This is due to the high fiber content and low amounts of saturated fats in most plant-based foods. Of these, there are different types of dietary fiber with different health benefits. Read on to know more about dietary fiber in plant-based foods, their benefits, and other details.
What Is Fiber?
Fiber, also known as roughage, is an important nutrient in any diet. Compared to animal-based food, its content is high in plant-based food like fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, and beans. It is not digested by the body, and this helps to maintain the health of the digestive system by ensuring bowel movement and flushing out harmful toxins out of the body.
There are mainly two types of fibers, and they are the following:
- Insoluble Fiber: This type of fiber is not soluble in water, and because of this it plays a key role in maintaining bowel movement. Inadequate amounts of this nutrient in your diet causes constipation. It is found in high amounts in whole grains and most vegetables.
- Soluble Fiber: This type of fiber dissolves in water, and it has multiple health benefits; it reduces blood cholesterol levels and helps to manage blood sugar levels. Plant-based food like nuts, barley, oatmeal, beans, and fruits like apples, pears, berries, and citrus fruits are rich in soluble fiber.
Most foods contain both soluble and insoluble fibers, and this amount is directly proportional to how much they are processed. For instance, whole foods have a high amount of it, while refined food products like white flour, white bread, etc have most of their fiber content removed.
What Are The Health Benefits Of Fiber?
According to surveys, one of the major reasons for many lifestyle diseases is inadequate amounts of fiber in people’s diets. This is especially true for Americans as their diet consists of high amounts of meat, which has low amounts of fiber. You must remember that eating a diet high in fiber boosts the immune system and improves overall health.
Listed below are the major health benefits of high-fiber plant-based diet plans:
- Digestive Health: The main benefit of eating foods with high-fiber content is that it normalizes bowel movement. As a result, it helps to relieve diarrhea and prevent constipation. Apart from these two, the other benefits include reducing the risk of hemorrhoids, diverticulitis, gallstones, and reducing the severity of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Furthermore, studies have shown that a high-fiber diet reduced the risk of ulcers and gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD).
- Diabetes: Several studies have shown that a high-fiber diet lowered your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. This is especially true if you consume higher amounts of insoluble fiber found in cereals. You must know that the fiber contained in whole grains lowers their glycaemic index. This is because it reduces the rate at which sugar enters the bloodstream and thereby helps to manage blood sugar levels.
- Heart Health: High-fiber plant-based diet plans help to maintain heart health. It lowers LDL or bad cholesterol and improves HDL or good cholesterol levels. Besides, consuming higher amounts of fiber in your diet lowers high blood pressure, reduces cardiovascular inflammation, and helps to shed excess weight, which is one of the major contributors to heart diseases.
- Cancer: Research suggests that eating a high-fiber plant-based diet significantly lowers the risk of developing colorectal cancer. Apart from this, fiber-rich foods lower the risk of other types of cancers related to the gastrointestinal tract, i.e., stomach, pharynx, and mouth.
- Weight Loss: Eating a high-fiber diet plays a key role in weight loss and thereby aids in weight management. The higher amounts of fiber in plant-based food make you feel fuller, while at the same time they have lower calories compared to animal foods. As a result of this, you eat less and cut calorie intake.
A high-fiber diet helps to manage blood sugar levels because of the low glycaemic index of whole foods. This helps to regulate the fat burning capacity of your body and avoid insulin spikes. Due to this, craving for high-calorie food is reduced and thereby reduces your calorie intake. Furthermore, eating high-fiber food like fruits also provides more energy when engaged in strenuous activities like exercising.
Eating fiber-rich food like fruits and vegetables helps with the removal of fat through the digestive system. Due to this, less fat is absorbed, and this leads to reduced weight gain.
How Much Dietary Fiber Is Needed?
Listed below is the minimum amount recommended daily fiber intake in grams:
- Age 9 – 13: 31g for male and 26g for female
- Age 14 – 18: 38g for male and 26g for female
- Age 19 – 30: 38g for male and 25g for female
- Age 31 – 50: 38g for male and 25g for female
- Age 51 – 70: 30g for male and 21g for female
- Over 70: 30g for male and 21g for female
We hope that the details shared above gave you a good understanding of the importance of fiber in plant-based diet plans.