America’s newfound concern over colon and intestinal health has created a flux of fiber-crazed consumers. Food companies have jumped on the bandwagon, and products in grocery stores labelled “rich in fiber” have skyrocketed. So what is fiber? And how does it work? I’ll break it down for you in laymen’s terms.
Dietary fiber is the indigestible part of plants that we eat. There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Though they work in different ways, both are beneficial to your health.
- Soluble fiber such as those found in apples, oatmeal, beans, lentils, nuts and blueberries. It helps lower glucose levels by reducing the rate of carbohydrate absorption, so those with type 2 diabetes can benefit from eating a healthy amount of soluble fiber.
- Insoluble fiber such as those found in legumes, wheat, brown rice, whole grain couscous, tomatoes, carrots, and cucumbers. This type of fiber helps move food through your gastrointestinal system by adding bulk to stool and helps food pass more quickly. Those suffering from diverticular disease and constipation should increase their insoluble fiber consumption.
The optimum ways of getting your fiber are from fresh fruits and veggies, legumes, whole grain foods and nuts. Stay away from foods that have fiber added to it.
S0 how much do you need per day?
It is recommended that children eat at least 20 grams of fiber daily, while women should target 25 grams daily and men should get 38 grams daily. However, the average American consumes only 15 grams a day. When increasing your fiber intake, make sure you are doing it slowly and drinking plenty of water, so your gastrointestinal system has time to adjust.