Why Fiber Is Important
Fiber is very important for a healthy digestive system and most Americans don’t get enough fiber in their food or have a healthy digestive system. Many people resort to all kinds of different medicines such as laxatives, fiber pills and powders, when all they have to do is eat more of the right foods. And the right foods are less expensive than all the fiber pills and powders.
There are two types of fiber in our food, insoluble and soluble fiber. It is important to get both types of these dietary fibers in your daily diet.
Soluble fiber is the type of fiber that is found in most fruits. This type of fiber dissolves in liquid and is absorbed readily into the body. Soluble fiber turns into a sort of gel in the digestive tract and this keeps the rate of food from passing through the body too fast. That is important in that it gives the body time to properly absorb the nutrients. This is one reason a healthy digestive tract is so important, this is how and where the body gets its nutrients.
This is the type of fiber that is found in most vegetables. It does not dissolve in liquid and helps keep the digestive tract free of any blockages. This fiber does absorb liquid and expands in the digestive tract as it gently and effectively keeps things moving through the system while “scraping’ the interior walls of the digestive tract clean. This is important for keeping the digestive system clean and prevents diverticulosis.
Health Benefits of Fiber
A diet high in dietary fiber keeps the good bacteria in the intestines healthy, which makes a healthy digestive system.
A high fiber diet can also prevent diverticulosis, constipation and colon cancers and is considered a heart healthy food. Fiber also helps lower the risk of diabetes by regulated blood sugar levels.
Soluble fiber seems to bind with cholesterol allowing it to be eliminated, lowering the cholesterol level by as much as 10% to 15%.
The colon is where the final process of digestion occurs, if the waste passes too quickly through the intestines, diarrhea occurs, and if the waste is passed too slowly, too much water is absorbed in the colon and constipation occurs which can lead to more serious problems. The right amount of fiber in the diet is important to your health.
Current research says that we should eat between 20 and 35 grams of fiber per day. Studies show that the average American eats 12 to 17 grams per day, and only 3 or 4 grams of this is the soluble fiber. The recommended amount of soluble fiber per day is 5 to 10 grams per day.
When you consider the average American diet, it’s easy to see why it is too low in fiber. Most of today's foods have little or no fiber. Soda pop has no fiber, meat has no fiber, refined white flour like buns, donuts, pasta and many more have very little fiber when compared to the whole wheat version.
Foods high in soluble fiber
- Nuts and seeds
- Berries, strawberries, blueberries
- Legumes, beans, peas and lentils
Foods high in insoluble fiber
- Wheat bran
- Whole wheat bread
- Whole grain cereal
- Vegetables like carrots, summer squash, celery and tomatoes.
Many foods contain both of these fiber types, such as carrots, apples, oatmeal and potatoes. The flesh part contains soluble fiber and the skins contain the insoluble fiber.
Note: If you have been eating a diet very low in fiber and decide to change to a healthier high fiber diet, go slow. Don’t all of a sudden eat a high fiber all day long. Start out slowly because eating a lot of fiber suddenly when your body isn’t used to it, could cause bloating and other uncomfortable feelings.
Don’t get discouraged if you feel too full or bloated after eating a lot of fiber all of a sudden. Eat slowly and thoroughly chew your food because digestion actually starts in the mouth when you start chewing.
Sam Montana © 03 December 2008
Sam Montana © 03 December 2008