Once associated with rather embarrassing products, fiber is now recognized as an important part of our diets. We’ve all seen advertisements for high-fiber breakfast cereals and fiber-rich snack bars, but most of us don’t completely understand the importance of adding fiber to our diets.
Dietary fiber is a virtually indigestible substance that’s found in plants. There are two main types of fiber and they have different effects on the body. Although scientifically different, insoluble fiber and soluble fiber both contribute to a healthy diet and lifestyle.
- Insoluble fiber will not dissolve in liquid. It is often found in vegetables. Insoluble fiber keeps the digestive tract free of anything that could cause a blockage, which is why it is promoted as a natural laxative.
- Soluble fiber will dissolve in liquid. It is often found in fruits. Soluble fiber absorbs readily into the body and helps maintain healthy cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
Foods that are high in fiber must be thoroughly chewed, which often slows down the eating process. Fiber contributes to a feeling of being full, which can help prevent overeating. It also slows digestion and absorption, keeping blood sugars at a more even level.
The Mayo Clinic recommends women under the age of 50 eat 25 grams of fiber daily and women over the age of 51 eat 21 grams of fiber per day.
High Fiber Foods
Fiber supplements (including that dreaded Metamucil!) can be taken, but fiber is found naturally in foods such as:
- Natural, whole-grain breads and cereals
Most health experts agree that adults should consume between 25 and 35 grams of dietary fiber (a mix of both soluble and insoluble) per day. The average American eats just 10 to 15 grams of dietary fiber per day.
If you decide to increase your fiber intake, it’s important to do so gradually. Your body will need time to adjust to your new dietary habits. Too much fiber can cause excessive laxative results and dehydration.
The informational content of this article is intended to convey general educational
information and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.
This article is intended to convey general educational information and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.