Eat more fiber. We’ve all heard that advice, so we assume it must be good for us. The problem is that fiber and flavor can seem opposites, and for many of us, flavor is what drives food choices. But the reality is, fiber can have both flavor and medicinal benefits that can help reduce and prevent common illnesses. In this article we will look at what exactly fiber is and how it works in the body.
What exactly is dietary fiber and in general what foods contain these carbohydrates?
Fiber is simply a type of carbohydrate found naturally in plant foods and is not digestible by humans. High-fiber plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes, nuts, and seeds also contain powerful vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients the body can use for optimal health. Although fiber cannot be digested, it travels through the digestive tract when nutrients are digested and can have beneficial effects on our health.
The problem is that Europeans eat less than half of the recommended daily allowance of 14 grams (g) per 1,000 calories of food.
A simpler recommendation for most adults is between 25 and 38g per day.
Soluble and Insoluble Fiber: What’s the Difference Between the Two?
There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Although both are important, they work differently in the body. Here is how :
Soluble fiber is a type of fiber that attracts water and forms a gel. This gel causes the digestive process to slow down, which can be beneficial for weight loss. Foods high in soluble fiber include oats, legumes, edible plant skins, and nuts.
Insoluble dietary fiber
Insoluble fiber is the type of fiber that, you guessed it, repels water. You can find insoluble fiber in foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, wheat bran, and whole grains like whole wheat pasta and brown rice. Their main benefit is to bulk up the stool and make it easier to move through the digestive tract. Most diets contain a combination of soluble and insoluble fiber, with 75% coming from insoluble fiber and 25% from soluble fiber.
Why should I eat fiber? An overview of the possible health benefits of this carbohydrate.
In summary, fiber can help you live longer. Studies suggest that people who eat more fiber tend to have less heart disease.
You can improve or prevent health conditions like prediabetes, diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity, and various digestive issues like constipation, colon cancer, and diverticulitis simply by increasing your fiber intake.
Research suggests that nutrients like fiber may play an important role in body weight. Both normal weight and overweight people have been found to have higher fiber intakes than obese people. Other studies continue to suggest that high fiber intake helps reduce weight gain with age. Fiber expands and swells the food in your digestive tract, slowing down digestion. This can increase satisfaction with your food and help stabilize blood sugar levels. High-fiber foods also tend to be lower in energy density, meaning they help you feel full without consuming excess calories. This concept is central to why a high-fiber diet is associated with lower obesity rates.
Fibers are like nature’s scrubbers, keeping your body’s tubes clean and reducing carcinogenic activity. One of the benefits of a high-fiber diet is a reduced risk of diverticulitis, a condition in which sacs formed in the colon become infected. Fiber prevents food from entering the pockets and moving through the digestive tract. Aim to consume 25-40g of fiber daily to reduce the risk of diverticulitis. Fiber also has anti-cancer effects: Soluble and insoluble fiber may also play a role in preventing colon cancer.
Eating high-fiber foods can help regulate the condition. Here are some of the top picks.
The miraculous effects of fiber on the body is a great example of medical nutrition therapy, a technique that nutritionists use on their patients to reduce the need for medication while improving health outcomes.
Here’s how it works: Your body uses bile salts, which are excreted through the gallbladder, to break down fats from food. Bile salts are made up of cholesterol. When you eat high-fiber foods, the fiber binds to bile salts, preventing them from re-entering the system at your next meal. Therefore, your body has to produce more bile salts by taking cholesterol from the liver. Soluble fiber lowers blood cholesterol levels. Fiber also has a preventive role for blood pressure, but the reason for this has more to do with nutrients like potassium, calcium, and magnesium found in high-fiber foods. If you’re still not convinced of increasing your fiber intake, know that data is also emerging on fiber’s ability to affect the immune system, mood and memory by promoting healthy gut bacteria.
What are the best dietary sources of fiber?
The Daily Value (DV) for fiber is 25 g. Note that foods with natural fiber are usually made up of a combination of soluble and insoluble fiber, with the majority coming from soluble fiber. To lower your blood cholesterol by 3-5%, you should consume at least 5-10g of soluble fiber per day.
Here are some dietary sources of fiber, along with the amount of DV fiber they provide: (17)
Passion fruit (1 cup): 25 g, 100 percent
Raspberries (1 cup): 8 g, 32%.
Blackberries (1 cup): 8 g, 32%.
Pears (1 medium size): 6 g, 24%.
Plums (5 pieces): 3 g, 12%.
Artichokes (1 large): 9 g, 36%.
Beans (1 cup): 9 g, 36%.
Peas: (1 cup): 8 g, 32%.
Lentils (½ cup): 8 g, 32%.
Kidney beans (½ cup): 6 g, 24%.
Sweet Potato (½ cup, mashed): 4g, 16%.
nuts and seeds
Chia seeds (30g): 10g, 40%.
Flaxseed (30 g): 6 g, 40 percent
Pumpkin seeds (30 g): 5 g, 20 percent
Almonds (1 oz): 4 g, 16%.
Grapes: (1 cup): 7 g, 28%.
Wheat: (2 biscuits): 6 g, 24%
Oat bran (1 cup): 6 g, 24%.
Brown rice (1 cup): 4 g, 16%.
What are the possible side effects of consuming too much fiber?
As with all things in life, eating too much fiber can be harmful to your health. There really is no upper limit for fiber intake, but it is known that too much fiber can cause bloating, gas and diarrhea. A sudden increase in fiber intake, insufficient fluid intake and inactivity, and a high-fiber diet can increase the likelihood of these symptoms. If you’re consuming more than 50g of fiber per day, you may also be at risk of mineral retention, which basically means your body is excreting it instead of absorbing it. Calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus are some of the minerals that can lead to overconsumption of fiber.
Should You Take Fiber Supplements? A look at the different options
Doctors often prescribe fiber supplements to treat irritable bowel syndrome or constipation. These dietary supplements are considered functional fibers isolated from plant sources:
Psyllium is a type of soluble fiber supplement that you can use to increase stool bulk and promote regular bowel movements.
Dextrin is a type of soluble, prebiotic fiber that promotes good bacteria for overall digestive health.
* Presse Santé strives to convey health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE can the information given replace the advice of a doctor.
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