Everybody knows we need fiber in our diets for good health. But do we even know how much is enough? And how much is in what foods?
Fiber is known to aid in weight loss, prevent constipation, hemorrhoids, diverticulitis, and has been shown to help manage blood sugar levels. Many studies have confirmed an association between high fiber intake and lower risk of coronary heart disease.
What Is Dietary Fiber?
Fiber is simply a form of carbohydrate that the body cannot digest, and is not absorbed into the bloodstream.
As with other carbohydrates, fiber is not converted to energy, but is excreted from our bodies.
However, this process of excretion is a crucial part of our detoxification system that helps rid our bodies of dangerous chemical and other residual buildup from the simple act of our cells creating energy.
And by slowing digestion, it enables the stabilization of blood sugar, and permits better absorption of nutrients. It tends to reduce blood cholesterol. It also increases satiety, so people aren’t inclined to eat as much.
Types of Fiber
The two types of fiber that most people are familiar with are soluble and insoluble.
Soluble fiber disperses when mixed with liquid. More importantly, this often results in a gel (depending on the viscosity of the fiber) so that bowel movements become more regular, and prolonging digestion for better nutrient absorption, such as its binds with fatty acids. Sources of insoluble fiber include oats and oat bran, some fruits, and vegetables such as peas and carrots, flax, beans, oatmeal, berries, apples, and some nuts and seeds.
Insoluble fiber is not water soluble, and passes through us largely intact, helping to move waste through the intestines, preventing constipation, and improving digestive health. It also helps to balance the pH (acid / alkaline level) in the intestine, important for nutrient absorption.
Sources of insoluble fiber include fruit and root vegetable skins, green beans and dark leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds, corn bran, whole wheat.
Current recommendations suggest that children and adult women consume a minimum of 20 grams of dietary fiber per day, and adult men consume at least 30 grams per day. The more calories you consume, the more fiber you need.
Teens, active adults, and particularly men may need up to 38 grams per day or more. This recommendation is for dietary fiber from food, not supplements.
Yet the average American eats only 15 grams of dietary fiber a day.
Sources of Fiber
Most of the fiber we get comes from whole grains, but, how many of us eat whole grain? Beans are another great source, and whole vegetables and fruits also provide a fair amount.
This is a pretty good chart containing the amount of fiber in most foods.
If you want to ensure your good health through nutrition, be sure that your body is able to absorb the nutrients and rid itself of toxins. Most of this occurs in the intestinal tract and is why getting enough fiber into your diet is crucial!
Just remember how important your colon’s health is to your overeall health. A good balance of fiber ensures you have healthy digestion!