Everybody knows we need fiber in our diets for good health. But how? And do we get enough?
Do we even know how much is enough? Or how much is in what foods?
These are questions that I didn’t ask for many years and only recently found out (well, I’d probably heard some of this before and pretty much figured I was getting enough and knew what to eat, but who can remember! I think if I write this it will help me and maybe some others… 🙂
What Is Dietary Fiber?
Fiber is simply a form of carbohydrate that the body cannot digest, and is not absorbed into the bloodstream. It is not converted to energy as are other carbohydrates, rather, it is excreted from our bodies.
Benefits of Fiber
Fiber is known to aid in weight loss, prevent constipation, hemorrhoids, diverticulosis, and has been shown to prevent some cancers (particularly colon and breast cancer, though there is some debate on these preventions).
Fiber can help manage blood sugar levels, as shown in many studies by large institutions.
Fiber may also help lower the bad LDL cholesterol and thus reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Many large studies have confirmed an association between high fiber intake and lower risk of coronary heart disease.
Types of Fiber
There are two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble.
Soluble fiber forms a gel when mixed with liquid. It prolongs the time that the stomach is emptied more slowly to give better nutrient absorption, and it binds with fatty acids. Sources of insoluble fiber include oats and oat bran, nuts, flax seed, fruits, and vegetables such as peas and carrots.
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 activity is to your health, and a good balance of fiber ensures you have healthy digestion!
To Your Health!