By: Jamie Feit Nutrition
Are you meeting the recommended daily requirements for fiber?
Fiber is a nutrient present in all plant foods: fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains.It is the indigestible portion of carbohydrates that we can not digest. Although we can not digest fiber it provides many health benefits. Fiber lowers cholesterol, decreases spikes in blood glucose levels, promotes a healthy GI tract, and provides a feeling of satiety, which can lead to weight reduction. This Fiber is actually the food for the good bacteria in your gut! Let me explain how this works. There are two types of fiber in foods.
First, soluble fiber, which is found in some fruits, legumes, oatmeal, and oat bran.
The second, insoluble fiber, which is found in vegetables, whole grains.
Soluble fiber sits in the stomach and forms a gel by drawing water to it as part of the digestive process. This gives a feeling of satiety, causing decreased appetite. This process also delays the absorption of carbohydrates, helping to lower spikes in blood glucose. Also, cholesterol molecules attach to the fiber and are carried out of the digestive tract, therefore helping to lower blood cholesterol levels.
Insoluble fiber is the part of the plant that we cannot digest, so it basically passes through the system carrying out waste and promoting the health of the GI tract.
The daily recommended amount of fiber from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is 25-30 grams per day. Most of the population only actually consume approximately 11g per day.
Our diets are full of processed, refined foods and enormous amounts of sugar. These foods do not contain much fiber and they feed the harmful bacteria in your gut which can lead to many health problems. Let me provide an example. Assume, for example, you eat an apple. It has approximately 4 g fiber. If you were to process the apple, ½ cup serving of applesauce it would have only 1 g of fiber. If you would further process the apples to apple juice there would no longer be any dietary fiber.
To take advantage of improving your health benefits by increasing fiber in the diet it is imperative to be properly hydrated. If fiber is added and not enough water is consumed the process does not work properly and may lead to GI discomfort.
Many familiar foods contain high amounts of fiber:
1 apple with skin ~4 g
¾ cup blueberries ~ 5g
1 cup raspberries ~ 8 g
1-ounce nuts ~ 4 g
3 cups popcorn ~ 4 g
½ avocado ~ 5 g
½ cup cooked chickpeas ~ 7 g
It is easy to increase the amount of fiber in your diet. Let’s look at an example of a few dietary changes that can make a big difference in fiber content without sacrificing anything.