(Natural News) Fresh fruits and vegetables are a must for a healthy diet, and consuming a lot of fiber-rich foods helps improve digestion. According to a recent study, a fiber-rich diet may also help prevent diseases.
The study was published in the journal The Lancet.
Fiber, digestion, and a lower risk of developing chronic diseases
Regardless of your age, fiber is a crucial part of your diet. The study suggests that individuals who consume more fiber have a higher chance of preventing various diseases.
The study was a meta-analysis of almost all studies available in major research databases, with some searched by hand. The researchers studied data from 185 prospective studies and 58 clinical trials with 4,635 adult participants.
Their findings suggested that there is at least one common factor among individuals who have diets that incorporate more fiber: They are more likely to live longer and avoid common diseases.
The researchers examined data that involved health outcomes in populations with low to higher-than-average fiber consumption. They found that it is beneficial to follow a fiber-rich diet since it reduces the risk of chronic diseases. (Related: A high-fiber diet can reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.)
They concluded that consuming foods rich in fiber may help prevent death and incidences of preventable diseases like colorectal cancer, coronary heart disease, stroke, and Type 2 diabetes.
How much fiber should you consume?
The researchers recommend consuming about 25 to 29 grams of fiber a day.
The following nutritious foods contain fiber:
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- Apples (with skin)
- Brussels sprouts
- Dried fruits (e.g., apricots, dates, plums, prunes, and raisins)
- Green beans
- Kidney beans
- Peanuts (dry roasted)
- Pears (with skin)
- Spinach (cooked)
- Sweet potatoes
- Whole-wheat bread
Add these fiber-rich foods to your regular diet to boost your digestion and lower your risk of developing potentially life-threatening diseases.
Optimizing your gut environment
Mindy Haar, assistant dean of undergraduate affairs at the New York Institute of Technology‘s School of Health Professions, agrees with the research findings. She notes that the results are backed by other research, which confirm the long-term benefits of fiber-rich diets.
Haar adds that in the last few years, experts have focused their attention on the microbiome and intestinal flora. Fiber acts as a prebiotic, which helps boost the growth of probiotics in the intestine. Different kinds of probiotics promote good health, and following a diet that includes different kinds of food rich in fiber will help optimize your gut environment.
Catherine Brennan, a registered dietitian nutritionist who writes for Feeling Full Nutrition, says that there are important things you should keep in mind before you increase your fiber intake. Compared with taking fiber supplements, eating nutritious foods rich in fiber is better for your gut environment. The researchers purposely didn’t include supplements in their study.
Brennan notes that fiber is naturally abundant in nutritious foods, and these foods are better options than supplements. According to some studies, fibers found in food can be more beneficial than supplements. Dietary fiber from food can help you feel satiated and satisfied after a meal.
If you’re not used to following a fiber-rich diet, add high-fiber foods to your diet gradually. Staying hydrated is also important, especially since fiber works like a sponge while being digested. Fiber needs more water to pass through smoothly.
A diet full of fiber can fill you up quicker during a meal, but it may also cause discomfort and flatulence. Brennan recommends eating slowly during mealtimes and paying attention to your fullness cues to avoid discomfort.
Consume more fiber-rich fruits and vegetables to boost your gut health and lower your risk of preventable diseases like Type 2 diabetes.