By Amit Mehta Nutrition

Dieting? Focus on fiber

When it comes to our diet, we focus all our energy on worrying about carbs and fat. Every popular fad and diet, be it the paleo diet or the Atkins diet, revolves around the intake of carbohydrates and the fat make-up of foods. While these are the essential macronutrients that make up a large chunk of our diet, we might be overlooking a component of our daily food that plays a major role in regulating our metabolism and how we process food. We are talking about fiber, of course.

The fact is, if you want to lose weight and get healthier, you need to focus on dietary fiber. In fact, fiber is so important to healthy physiological functions, that the USDA recommends that 20-25 grams of fiber a day for adults.

However, most of us are not probably meeting our recommended intake, and the main reason is our growing dependence on processed foods. Given our hectic lifestyles and the abundance of ‘instant’ food, processed foods are becoming a dominant part of the Indian diet. From refined grains and bread to packaged foods, processed foods are made by eliminating most of the natural fiber – which means that your diet is probably falling short of the recommended fiber intake.

This deficiency of fiber in the typical Indian diet is having repercussions on our health. A recent study revealed that 14% of urban Indians are constipated, and obesity is a growing epidemic in the country. How can we transform our diet to add to our health and not our waistlines? The answer might lie in upping your fiber intake.

How does fiber help with weight loss? Fiber slows down the digestion process- this means that you feel fuller for longer with meals, and don’t end up overeating. Fiber eases the digestion process by moving food along the colon, and reduces bloating and indigestion. The less bloated you are, the better you feel. Fiber also helps regulate blood sugar levels, which has a huge impact on how the body processes carbohydrates.

Moreover, weight management isn’t the only health benefit of fiber. Fiber also significantly lowers the risk of heart disease, improves skin health by flushing out acne-causing bacteria, and reduces the risk of gallstones, kidney stones, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

This might seem as obvious advice, but it’s important to state it nonetheless – ensure that your diet has a healthy mix of legumes, beans, fruits, and vegetables. These are abundant in natural fiber, and also help you meet your recommended intake of essential vitamins. Lower your dependence on refined and processed foods, and instead load up your plate with whole foods.

There are now natural products available like instant high-fiber soups, which help you meet your recommended intake, without the addition of unnecessary calories to your diet. Remember, eating the right foods is not enough – it is only when your body processes food in the right way, that you can start to feel the benefits of a healthy diet.

With a balanced high-fiber diet, moderate activity levels, and clean living, you will find that the kilos are coming off sooner than you expected.

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