Nutrition: Friendly Fibers

The Benefits of Fiber.

You’ve probably had your physician or medical professional tell you to you eat more fiber. It’s such a common recommendation, but many of us might not know what fiber is, where it comes from, or why we need to eat more of it.

Fiber is a group of certain carbohydrates that humans cannot digest. They are categorized as either insoluble or soluble. Insoluble fibers, found in many cruciferous vegetables and whole grains, don’t dissolve in water and help keep your bowel movements regular. Soluble fibers—found in seeds, nuts, legumes, and certain fruits—are absorbed by water and slow down the digestion of your nutrients. Both insoluble and soluble fiber promote the presence of healthy bacteria by acting as a prebiotic, which is food for probiotics, your gut’s beneficial bacteria. By eating adequate amounts of fiber, you can maintain healthy digestion, regular bowel movements, and maintain good levels of probiotics in your stomach.

A second benefit of fiber is how filling it is. Fiber helps promote satiation. Observational studies show that people who eat more fiber tend to weigh less and have less body fat. Another very important reason to eat fiber is to help protect against Type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol. Regular fiber intake has been shown to significantly lower the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. It can also can help lower LDL cholesterol in the body. The only time you should worry about your fiber intake is if you have IBS—eating high amounts of fiber can lead to flare ups.

Make sure you’re eating or supplementing your diet with enough fiber to maintain a healthy digestive tract, stay satiated, and prevent the onset of diabetes and high cholesterol. Here are some recommendations of how much fiber to consume and what foods to eat to get it.

Fiber recommendations:

  • Women under the age of 51: 25 g/day
  • Men under the age of 51: 38 g/day
  • Women over the age of 51: 21 g/day
  • Men over the age of 51: 30 g/day

Foods high in fiber:

  • Pear with skin (7g)
  • 1 cup raspberries (8g)
  • ½ of a medium avocado (5g)
  • ½ cup black beans ( 7.5g)
  • 1 oz. almonds (3.5g)

 

—Posted October 19, 2016

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