Fiber is an essential part of a healthy diet, which includes the parts of plant foods that our body can’t digest or absorb. It can be found in whole fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and pulses. Unlike other carbohydrates, fiber cannot be broken down into sugar molecules and instead passes through the body and enters the large intestine.
Fiber plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy digestive system. The indigestible nature of fiber allows it to move through the digestive system without being broken down, which helps to regulate bowel movements and prevent constipation. Fiber also helps to keep the gut environment healthy by promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria in the colon.
In addition to its digestive benefits, fiber can also help with weight management by keeping us feeling fuller for longer periods of time. This can lead to reduced calorie intake and a healthier body weight. Fiber-rich foods also tend to be more nutrient-dense and lower in calories, making them an excellent choice for overall health and well-being.
Most adults in the United States consume only about 15 grams of fiber per day, while the average in the United Kingdom is 18 grams per day. However, the current recommendations for good health are to consume approximately 30 grams of fiber per day for adults and between 15-25 grams for children.
Types of Fiber
Fiber can be divided into two types: soluble and insoluble.
- Insoluble fiber can be found in foods such as nuts, wheat bran, vegetables, and whole grains. This type of fiber adds bulk to stool, and it appears to facilitate faster passage of food through the stomach and intestines.
- Soluble fiber has the ability to absorb water and form a gel-like substance during digestion, which results in slower digestion. This type of fiber is present in foods like oats, barley, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, peas, and certain fruits and vegetables. Psyllium, a commonly used fiber supplement, is primarily composed of soluble fiber. Certain types of soluble fiber may also contribute to reducing the risk of heart disease.
Both types of fiber work together to support optimal digestive health.
Health Benefits of Fiber
Fiber has many health benefits, including keeping our digestive system healthy, preventing constipation, and helping waste move through the digestive tract more quickly. Additionally, foods such as oats and barley contain a type of fiber known as beta-glucan, which may help reduce cholesterol levels. Some types of fiber can also help increase the good bacteria in the gut, providing a food source for ‘friendly’ gut bacteria and helping them to produce short-chain fatty acids.
How to Increase Your Fiber Intake
Ways to increase your fibre intake:
- Opt for whole-grain over white flour whenever possible.
- Incorporate fresh fruit, dried fruit, seeds, and nuts into your diet.
- Eat veggies with the skins on, such as baked potatoes, carrots, or cucumbers.
- Include plenty of vegetables in your meals.
- Keep a stock of frozen vegetables on hand to easily add to meals.
- Add pulses, like beans, lentils, or chickpeas, to stews, curries, and salads.
In conclusion, consuming an adequate amount of dietary fiber is essential for maintaining good health, and it is important to include fiber-rich foods in your daily diet.
If you’re looking to boost your fiber intake and embrace a healthier lifestyle, the PazByNature clinic has got you covered! Our team of naturopathic experts can create a personalized plan that incorporates plenty of fiber-rich foods, helping you to achieve optimal digestive health and overall wellness. Please contact us here
Chart of Fiber Content in Foods