How Does Fiber Work And Help Our Bodies?

ID-10020097Today’s post is about fiber. What is fiber? How does fiber work and help our bodies? I won’t get into a whole lot of science on this subject, but we could. We will center around the basics of fiber and it’s importance.

First, let’s define fiber. Fiber is a string of sugar molecules that can’t be digested. One fiber is a sugar, which means it’s a carbohydrate. So basically it’s a carbohydrate that can’t be digested. It is found in fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes.

Yes, it can’t be digested. So why eat it? Well it helps with digestion. It “cleans” out the gut. This leads us to a couple of questions. One, what does it do? Two, how will it help?

To answer the first question we must first understand there are two types of fiber. There is soluble and insoluble. Let’s break down each one.

Soluble fiber: This fiber dissolves in water and forms a gel. This slows down digestion. Giving you that “full” feeling. Which helps control weight. It helps keep our blood sugar regulated and helps by lowering the “bad” cholesterol, know as LDL (low density lipoprotein). This is the cholesterol that will “clog” arteries. This is known as Atherosclerosis. In a nut shell, this gel helps “soak” up the bad cholesterol by interfering with the absorption of the LDL and then excrete it from the body.

Sources of soluble fiber includeoatmeal, oat cereal, lentils, apples, oranges, pears, oat bran, strawberries, nuts, flaxseeds, beans, dried peas, blueberries, psyllium, cucumbers, celery, and carrots.

Insoluble Fiber: This fiber is the opposite. It does not dissolve in water.  It passes through our stomach intact. This is the fiber that “cleans” us out. It helps speed up the passage of food and waste in our gut and aids in keeping the intestinal tract hydrated.

Sources of insoluble fiber include: whole wheat, whole grains, wheat bran, corn bran, seeds, nuts, barley, couscous, brown rice, bulgur, zucchini, celery, broccoli, cabbage, onions, tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, green beans, dark leafy vegetables, raisins, grapes, fruit, and root vegetable skins.

Benefits:

  • lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol
  • lowers blood pressure
  • reduce risk of heart disease
  • reduce risk of diverticulitis (inflammation of the intestine)
  • reduces constipation
  • weight management (keeps you full longer)
  • controls blood sugar
  • promotes a “clean” gut
  • reduce risks of developing hemorrhoids

There you have it. How does fiber work and help our bodies?  Remember there are two types of fiber and each one is just as important as the other. Both contribute to keeping your body functioning properly.  Let’s take a quick look at daily fiber recommendations. According to WebMD the average adult eats only 15 grams of fiber daily. Using the Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommendations of 38 grams for men and 25 grams for women you can see many adults clearly aren’t eating enough.  The U.S. Dietary Guidelines Publication from 2010 recommends 14 grams per 1000 calories consumed. If we base that on the norm of 2000 calorie diet it’s 28 grams. If you’re an active person or exercise a lot it will vary. It could be as high as 42 grams based on 3ooo calorie diet. Which guideline you choose to follow is up to you. I personally find it easier to follow the 14 grams per 1000 calories. I recommend consuming a variety of fruits and vegetables daily.

 

Sources: WebMd; Acefitness, Mayoclinic, Institute of Medicine, U.S.D.A.

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