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Understanding Your Daily Fiber Needs
- Most people don’t know it, but they’re not meeting their daily fiber needs and really should increase fiber intake
- Insoluble fiber helps promote healthy digestion and regularity
- Insoluble fiber foods include Brazil nuts, brown rice and peanuts
Most of us know we need more fiber in our diets but may be hesitant to start adding it in everyday. After all, there are plenty of foods advertising their fiber-rich content and how readily available they are at our local grocery stores. Does this really remind us of how important fiber really is? It is very possible that most of us don’t have a true idea of how much fiber we need or of how to increase our fiber intake without switching to a diet of bran muffins and whole grain cereal. Below are some guidelines to help you understand your body’s fiber needs and how to incorporate more fiber more easily into your eating habits.
How Much Fiber is Enough Fiber?
Fiber is considered a type of carbohydrate that our bodies are not capable of digesting. While that may seem like a waste of perfectly good food, fiber can actually help our bodies stay healthy in many ways. To understand those health benefits, we first need to understand the two types of fiber found in foods. The first type of fiber is called insoluble fiber. Insoluble means that the fiber will not dissolve in water. This fiber takes up a lot of space in our bodies, therefore it helps in promoting digestion and regularity. This is because insoluble fiber is capable of absorbing the water from the body and directly helping in waste elimination process. An important benefit of adequate fiber intake is easy and unstrained waste elimination which directly helps prevent the development of painful hemorrhoids or diverticulosis (the development of pouches in the colon).
The second type of fiber is called soluble fiber. Soluble means that the fiber can dissolve in water. When in the stomach, this type of fiber acts to prevent the stomach from emptying quickly, resulting in you feeling full longer. More importantly, it slows the digestive process which can help regulate blood sugar levels and can help bring down blood cholesterol levels. Both types of fiber need to be consumed if we are going to maintain a healthy system. Again, the question is how much fiber should we be eating? Men need to eat about 38 grams per day until they are age 50, then the recommended daily allowance drops down to 30 grams per day. Women, on the other hand, need about 25 grams per day until they turn age 50, then their RDA drops down to 21 grams per day. While those numbers may not seem unreasonable, you should realize that a single food is considered a good source of fiber if it contains at least 3 grams of fiber . Also, note that fiber is not going to be found in any of your animal products, including dairy and meat. This means you may need to re-evaluate your diet to find new ways of meeting daily fiber requirements.
Getting the Fiber You Need
First, it may be best to avoid relying on supplements as your daily requirement of fiber. You are better off adding fiber to your diet through the foods you eat. In this way, you benefit from the other nutrients, contained in those foods, which your body also needs. Plus, you are less likely to have bloating, gas and other problems associated with increasing your fiber too quickly with supplemental products. Secondly, go slowly. If you eat too much fiber in your diet too quickly, you could end up causing constipation instead of bowel regularity, because all of the water in your body is being absorbed by the fiber. More water is necessary as you increase the fiber levels. Start off by eating more fruit and vegetables if you need to increase your fiber. Most fruits are very rich in fiber, however, eat the whole fruit and skip buying the fruit juices as they contain high sugar, unless indicated that they are 100 % juice. Another way to increase fiber through food is to leave the peels on your apples when you eat them. The peels contain a good amount of fiber. Even eating the skin of your baked potato can increase the amount of fiber in your diet. In addition to eating more fruits and vegetables, consider switching from white bread products to whole grain products. Start the day by eating breakfast foods that are high in fiber, such as different types of cereal or even some natural granola bars. Contrary to the “jokes” about eating beans, these are excellent sources of fiber and can be a great addition to almost any meal. By working in more fiber to your diet slowly, you can improve your overall health and well-being. If you are having other health issues, seek advice from your health care professional as to the best ways to improve your overall health and diet program.
The information supplied in this article is not to be considered as medical advice and is for educational purposes only.
|Nutritious Food30 Sep 2008|