Although fiber is not a very sexy topic it is an important part of our diet and has many health benefits. Dietary fiber is also known as roughage. We get it from the plant based food and it is the indigestible portion of our diet. Sadly, for most people the fiber we eat is far below what our bodies need. It is estimated most Americans get about 50% of the fiber they need every day. Even worse the foods most children eat provides about 20% of recommended fiber intake. The problem today is the much of our diet is made of prepared foods. Many packaged foods have processed the fiber out.
The fiber we consume, comes from grain husks, the skins and flesh of fruit and the tough, fibrous material in vegetables. It is unable to be broken down by our digestive system, it passes through our stomach and intestines. Fiber has very few nutrients or calories.
Although it is not digested and is therefore not absorbed into the system it very important to our health. Dietary fibers can act by changing the nature of the contents of the gut and by changing how other foods are absorbed.
It can be difficult to get all the fiber recommended from food. Adults should eat about 25-30 grams of fiber per day. Still, the normal American, consuming the typical Western diet high in fats and carbohydrates, takes in only half of the amount needed. The National Academy of Sciences recently upped its fiber guidelines to 25g daily for women and 38g daily for men. For kids add 5g to your child’s age for the correct amount.
Types of Fiber
Two different types of dietary fiber exist, soluble and insoluble. Both types play important roles in keeping your digestive system running right. The soluble types of fiber can dissolve in water. Others types of fiber that are insoluble, do not dissolve in water.
Insoluble fiber, provides bulk in the gut and can also act as a prebiotic. It can be found in whole grain products, seeds, fresh fruits and veggies. The bulk it provides makes elimination easier and helps to prevent constipation. Insoluble fiber can prevent many digestive difficulties. There are also some scientific studies that show a link between diets high in fiber and low in fat to a reduced risk of certain cancers.
Benefits of FiberSoluble fiber can be found in oat bran and dried beans. Soluble fiber stays in the gut a long period of time. This helps provides a feeling of fullness. This also delays the release of other foods from the stomach. This helps keep blood sugar levels stable so that you don’t have any feeling of fatigue and weakness linked with low blood sugar levels. It has been shown to lower cholesterol.
Benefits of Fiber
There are many health benefits obtained from eating an adequate amount of fiber. It will affect your intestines, your blood sugar, energy levels, cholesterol and risk of cancer.
As mentioned fiber stays in the stomach longer than other foods. This slows down the absorption of your meal, which means the nutrients in your food enter your system more slowly. The result is a steadier level of sugar in your blood for a longer period of time. You feel full longer and you have energy for a longer period of time.
Although fiber stays in the stomach for a longer time bulk fiber helps food move through the intestines more easily. This makes constipation less likely. It also reduces the pressure in the colon, preventing diverticulosis and hemorrhoids. A type of cleansing action also occurs in the colon. This can lower the possibility of dangerous effects of drugs, food additives and chemicals in our diets. It also aids in removing harmful toxins released in digestion.
A diet with good dietary fiber may lower blood cholesterol levels by aiding in reducing the transit period of dietary cholesterol through the gastrointestinal tract, minimizing the absorption of cholesterol from foods.
Fiber has an important part to play in maintaining a healthy body and is a crucial part of our daily intake. Foods high in fiber are filling, but low in calories, so they assist in the management of weight. By delaying the absorption of food in our stomach they can help maintain a feeling of fullness and prevent swings in blood sugar levels. These effects both help to decrease hunger. It also helps decrease fatigue and maintain energy levels.
Fiber increases the bulk of fecal material, and encourages the efficient passage of waste products through the intestine. It also draws in water from the surrounding blood vessels, which softens the stools, making elimination more regular and easier, thus helping to prevent constipation and associated problems. By reducing the absorption of digested fats, blood cholesterol levels are lowered, thereby reducing the risk of coronary heart disease.
Sources of Fiber
Most vegetables are a source of fiber, some have more than others. Whole grains and unprocessed food provide the best fiber sources. Five more grams of fiber in a serving is considered high fiber. The amount of fiber we get from food does depend on how it is prepared. Here are some high fiber foods:
- Beans. Think three-bean salad, bean burritos, chili, soup.
- Whole grains. That means whole-wheat bread, pasta, etc.
- Brown rice. White rice doesn’t offer much fiber.
- Popcorn. It’s a great source of fiber.
- Nuts. Almonds, pecans, and walnuts have more fiber than other nuts.
- Baked potato with skin. It’s the skin that’s important here.
- Berries. All those seeds, plus the skin, give great fiber to any berry.
- Bran cereal. Actually, any cereal that has whole grains
- Oatmeal. Whether its microwaved or stove-cooked, oatmeal is good fiber.
- Vegetables. The crunchier, the better.
Another Source of Fiber
Since most adults only get 50% of the recommended amount of fiber in their diet a supplement could help fill the deficit. There is a delicious chocolate flavored treat, Sync that includes a blend of soluble, insoluble and prebiotic fibers to synchronize digestion and weight management. This 100% plant derived-fiber drink mix is inspired by the Mediterranean diet which relies on abundant fruit and vegetables. Crafted to include oats for their natural heart healthy beta- glucan content and incorporating soluble fibers from acacia and prebiotic-rich apples and peas, Sync utilizes nurturing plant ingredients to further support wellbeing in addition to digestive health. Fiber plays an important role in heart health and weight management, and offers many benefits. As a soluble fiber, oat beta-glucans may assist in binding dietary fats to support removal from the body. Fibers from Mediterranean acacia, apples and peas assist in purifying the digestive tract and quickly removing unwanted chemicals and waste.
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Please leave your comments below. Also let me know what you think of our products. Dr. Christine Rose