What is fiber?
Fiber comes from plant foods, like fruits, vegetables, and grains. It is the part of the plant that the body cannot absorb. Unlike carbohydrates, protein, and fats; your body does not digest dietary fiber. It goes through the body whole.
There are two types of dietary fiber:
- Soluble Fiber: This type dissolves in water. It turns to gel during digestion, slowing digestion and keeping you full. It comes from food items like oats, nuts, beans, carrots, and barley. It has been shown to lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels.
- Insoluble fiber: this type of fiber does not dissolve in water. It relieves constipation by instigating the movement of material through the body. It increases the stool bulk in the body and helps movement, eliminating toxic waste as it goes. This type of fiber comes from foods like whole-wheat flour, beans, and vegetables.
Many high fiber foods contain both insoluble and soluble fiber, such as oats and beans.
Health benefits of fiber:
- Heart disease: as stated above, dietary fiber can help reduce cholesterol levels, protecting the body against heart disease.
- Diabetes: many studies have shown that diabetes patients who consume a lot of fiber do not need insulin as much as those who do not consume as much fiber. Fiber slows the absorption of sugar.
- Healthy body weight: if you have ever eaten a bowl of oatmeal, you know that fiber makes you full fast. It also keeps you full for an extended period of time without adding calories. It has been shown to help reduce obesity and keep you at a healthy weight.
- Gastrointestinal health: As you know, fiber regulates bowel movements, reducing the risk of hemorrhoids or other health issues in the colon.
How much fiber should you consume?
The recommended amount of fiber children, adolescents and adults should consume is 20 to 35 grams of fiber each day.
Foods with the most fiber: