Fiber is comprised of the tough, fibrous structures of plants. The interesting thing about fiber is that unlike carbohydrates, protein, and fat it is not digested. Fiber stays fairly intact as it travels through the various digestive organs in the body, providing us with many health benefits as it makes its journey.
There are two different types of fiber:
Soluble Fiber is able to dissolve in water, creating a gummy substance. This type of fiber increases stool bulk, and has been shown to lower cholesterol levels which keeps our heart feeling strong! Sources of soluble fiber include oats, rye, barley, psyllium (the fiber found in the dietary supplement Metamucil) beans, legumes, and citrus fruits.
Insoluble fiber increases the rate of movement of fecal matter throughout the digestive tract to prevent constipation. Sources of insoluble fiber include whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts, beans and vegetables.
Fiber can also be very beneficial in those with diabetes due to its ability to control blood sugar levels by slowing the breakdown of sugars. In addition, fiber can aid in weight management. High fiber diets tend to make us feel fuller for longer, and are usually filled with foods that are low in calories.
So now that you know where fiber comes from and why it is a crucial element of your diet, how much do you need to consume? The recommended daily amount of fiber is 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men.
Here are some examples of foods and their fiber content:
1 medium pear with skin= 5.5g fiber
¾ cup bran flakes= 5.3g fiber
1 small baked potato with skin= 3g fiber
1 cup cooed black beans= 15g fiber
Final Fiber Tips:
1. Drink plenty of water! Fiber needs water in order to improve the texture of your stool.
2. Add fiber into your diet gradually to ease any discomfort or bloating that can accompany a high fiber diet.