You may find it a little surprising to hear that there is one nutrient, which significantly promotes your overall wellbeing. From burning fat to eliminating the hazards arising out of malnutrition – it takes care of everything. You may have guessed the name by now; yes, I am talking about fiber – one of the most talked about topics for health professionals and seniors. A high-fiber diet provides a multitude of health benefits including reduced risks of hypertension, heart disease and stroke. Here, we’re not advising you to include split peas, lentils or black beans in every item you cook or eat. Rather, we aim to help you obtain a clear picture about all things fiber – from the things that can be done by this wondrous nutrient to the best types and how much of it you actually need.
Fiber is classified into two categories – soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber attracts water, dissolves and forms a gel that lowers the pace at which food enters your bloodstream. This type is heavily found in foods like squash, avocados, carrots, beets, turnips, plantains, starchy tubers (yams, potatoes, sweet potatoes etc). On the contrary, insoluble fibers don’t dissolve in water and pass through the digestive tract intact. It brushes the sides of the colon, making waste softer and heavier so it can shimmy through your intestines more easily. Foods such as whole grains, wheat bran, seeds and nuts, raw fruits and vegetables etc are good sources of insoluble fiber.
Which Is Ideal For You?
Both kinds promote good health. Soluble fibers can encourage digestion because certain kinds of it like inulin (a member of the class of fructans) and fructooligosaccharide (FOS) act as prebiotics. On the other hand, insoluble fibers greatly contribute toward relieving constipation. However, if you’re suffering from digestive issues like diarrhea, IBS, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis or acid reflux, insoluble fibers can trigger hazards as these pass through your body undigested.
While probiotics – in forms of foods or dietary supplements, are live bacteria that are good for our health, particularly our digestive system, prebiotics nourish the good bacteria already present in the colon. It transforms the soluble fiber into fatty acids (short-chain) such as butyrate that make the colon stronger and can boost metabolism, increase insulin sensitivity and lower inflammation, risk of diabetes and heart disease.
Gut Health Is Synonymous To Good Health
Whether you’re consuming good bacteria or nourishing it with soluble fiber, according to researches, your gut health is one of the key factors that play crucial role in determining your overall wellbeing. In addition, good gut bacteria aid your body to detoxify, manage your metabolism, save you from infections and promote necessary hormonal function together with supporting normal gastrointestinal function. These also constitute more than 3/4th of our immune system. All these are quite impressive reasons for considering gut health synonymous to your overall wellbeing.
But That’s Not The End!
Apart from nourishing bacteria, soluble fiber reduces the pace of digestion and elevation of your blood sugar after having a meal. Hence, you store less fat while feeling fuller. In addition, your energy and mood become stable and the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes decreases.
How Much Do You Actually Need?
The Institute of Medicine advised that a majority of people should consume a minimum of 25 grams of dietary fiber each day. If you’re a woman, a little more of it (25-35 grams) might be required as fiber helps in decreasing the chance of breast cancer. This isn’t a quantity difficult to maintain but unfortunately, according to a research, an average American’s fiber intake was only approximately 15-16 grams each day from 1999 to 2008. So, it’s advisable to take the help of fiber supplements to cover the insufficiency for maintaining gut health on the days when you don’t have a perfect diet.
And Finally, Start Slow
With all these facts about supercharged overall health, it may become tempting to start consuming fiber like the world has come to its end, but you should always start slow. Shoveling down truckloads of fiber can make your gut bacteria react in a different way as they aren’t used to such a heavy consumption. This may lead to bloating, gas or simply a little discomfort – all of which are quite normal phenomenon. And that’s why you should start small and then gradually work your way up to the suggested dose as prescribed by your nutritionist.
Now that you know the key beneficial factors about fiber, encounter your next-door fiber zealots (and those who aren’t) and share your experiences gained during the journey.