One of the best ways to prevent many chronic diseases is also quite simple: Include more fiber in your diet. Adequate fiber intake can help you avoid heart disease, diabetes, and even certain types of cancer. But most of us focus on calories, fat, and even protein in our food choices, while neglecting to consider fiber content. In fact, odds are good that you’re only consuming about half of your recommended daily allowance of fiber (25 to 38 grams per day).
Luckily, it’s easy to boost your fiber intake. Choose one or two of the methods listed below, and you can tweak your diet for added disease prevention.
Eat more fruit. Fruit juices might contain vitamins, but the processing of fruits into juices depletes most of their beneficial fiber. Snack on fresh fruit throughout the day. As a bonus, you will find this habit filling, so you’re less likely to binge on unhealthy foods.
Eat your veggies. Yes, the dreaded vegetables! Veggies are chock-full of beneficial fiber, and low in calories, so you can eat as much as you want. But no, french fries don’t count!
Eat the skins, too. When consuming fresh fruits and veggies, don’t peel off their fiber-rich skins. But do wash your food thoroughly, to remove pesticides, bacteria, and other residue. Opt for organic produce when you can, and you won’t have to worry as much about chemicals in your food.
Add more beans, peas, and lentils to your diet. Starting to see a pattern here? A plant-based diet is the key to getting enough fiber, not to mention other essential vitamins and minerals. Beans, peas, and lentils are inexpensive, filling, and full of fiber. They’ll also help you get more protein, which is especially important as you transition into a more produce-heavy diet.
Learn to read nutrition labels. If you haven’t already learned this important life skill, it’s time to start. First, pay attention to portion sizes, and then check for each food’s content of valuable nutrients such as fiber. Remember that if you eat two portions, you’re consuming twice as much fiber. Of course, you’re also consuming double the calories, so pay attention to that detail!
A healthy diet helps you slash your risk of chronic diseases, but nothing is guaranteed. Remember to see your physician for regular preventive care. Early detection and treatment of disease will help you live a longer, healthier, and happier life.