Most Americans consume diets that are grossly deficient in fiber. Most nutritionists recommend consuming 25 to 40 grams of fiber per day. The average American consumes 10 to 15 grams. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), dietary fiber is defined as the edible parts of plants or analogous carbohydrates that are resistant to digestion and absorption in human small intestine and undergoes complete or partial fermentation in large intestine. It is believed that adequate dietary fiber intake can significantly reduce the incidence of cardiovascular disease and other diseases such as cancer and diabetes. Numerous studies have demonstrated the positive effects that dietary fiber has on decreasing total cholesterol and low density lipoproteins (LDL), or bad cholesterol.
There are two types of dietary fiber: Soluble and Insoluble fiber.
Soluble fiber dissolves in water. Types of soluble fiber include pectins, which occur in fruits such as apples, strawberries and citrus. Soluble fiber slows down digestion in the stomach and small intestine allowing adequate uptake of important nutrients and minerals and proper stabilization of blood sugar. Soluble fiber can also help with weight loss by increasing a feeling of fullness and decreasing the amount of calories consumed. It can also decrease cholesterol levels by binding with cholesterol and bile acids, thereby preventing absorption by the body. Dietary fiber can also help in the maintenance or prevention of diabetes by slowing the absorption of glucose from the intestines.
Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water and is considered a natural laxative. It’s most significant function is to collect water and increase stool bulk in the large intestine. Types of insoluble fiber includes cellulose and lignin which occur in whole grains such as wheat bran, and hemicellulose which is found in whole grains, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables. Insoluble fiber speeds the passage of food through the large intestine and can be beneficial in decreasing the incidence of colorectal cancer. Rich sources include dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale and collard greens, green beans, broccoli and cauliflower, fruit skins, beets and carrots, wheat oat, corn bran and nuts and seeds.
How Often And How Much Fiber Should You Consume?
Every day! Fiber should be included in your diet on a regular basis. It helps prevent constipation and increases frequency of healthy bowel movements. It also provides a feeling of fullness or satiety and essentially decreases caloric intake. Fiber rids of fats and toxins promoting a healthy cardiovascular system. It acts as a natural cleansing agent for your colon and your blood leading to a healthier body. As far as the amount you should consume, grams aren’t really important in my opinion. As long as you’re consuming foods that are rich in fiber, you don’t need to calculate a number that is a goal for you to attain.
Because of our poor diets, most Americans are deficient in dietary fiber. There are two types of fiber; soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber dissolvers in water and insoluble fiber does not. Fiber is important in promoting a healthy digestive and cardiovascular system. Every meal consumed should contain foods that are rich in fiber which allows the body to cleanse and remove unhealthy fats and toxins. Fiber provides satiety and prevents overeating and excess caloric intake. Fiber can help prevent diseases and maintain a healthy body, mind and life. If you have digestive problems, high cholesterol or diabetes, make it a priority to get more fiber in your diet! It might save your life or prevent further stages of disease.