Benefits to a healthy dose of daily fiber intake

Published 10:34 am Friday, December 2, 2011

As a nutritionist, it’s not only my job to make sure my clients make progress, but to educate them on how to stay healthy, as well. One part of a healthy diet I teach them about is fiber.
Just what is fiber, and why do we need it? Dietary fiber is also known as “roughage.” It includes all parts of plant stuffs that our bodies can’t digest.
Proteins, fats and carbohydrates are all broken down and absorbed by our bodies. Fiber remains in tact as it passes from the stomach, through the small, and large intestines.
Fiber is usually put in to one of two categories; “soluble” fiber: fiber that dissolves in water and “Insoluble” fiber, fiber that does not dissolve in water.
Soluble fiber becomes gel-like once it absorbs water. This type of fiber is found in apples, barley, peas, carrots, citrus fruits, oats, pears, plums, black beans, navy beans, northern and pinto beans, broccoli and Brussels sprouts.
Soluble fiber helps lower blood glucose and cholesterol levels. Lowered blood glucose levels help reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Lower cholesterol levels help reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease.
Insoluble fiber creates “bulk,” and helps movement of materials through the digestive system. It’s beneficial to those who battle with constipation. This type of fiber is found in nuts, wheat bran, whole wheat flour, corn bran, green beans, potatoes with the skins, legumes and cauliflower.
As a rule, vegetables have more insoluble fiber and fruits have more soluble fiber.
Did you know high fiber foods can aid in weight loss too?
That’s right. Fiber helps you feel fuller longer, so you don’t feel the need to eat so much. Also, high fiber foods are less energy-dense, which means you consume fewer calories.
On a nutritional profile there are three types of carbohydrates listed. They are sugars or simple sugars, other sugars or complex sugars and fiber. Even though fiber is listed on nutritional labels as a carbohydrate, it doesn’t act as one, because it never leaves the GI tract, and is therefore not absorbed by the body.
For this reason, you should subtract the number of fiber grams from your total carbohydrate intake.
So, just how much fiber do we need? I recommend clients get between 25-40 grams of fiber a day. Be careful though. Increase your fiber intake slowly, because too much fiber taken too soon can cause digestive distress. This will help prevent bloating and cramping.
Also, make sure your water intake increases, as you in creases your fiber. Increasing your daily fiber intake will make you look and feel better.
Fitness or nutrition question? Email me at or visit
David Crocker of Landrum has been a nutritionist  and personal trainer for 25 years. He served as strength director of the Spartanburg Y.M.C.A., head strength coach for the S.C. state champion girls gymnastic team, USC-Spartanburg baseball team, Converse college equestrian team, lead trainer to L.H. Fields modeling agency, and taught four semesters at USC-Union.
Crocker was also a regular guest of the Pam Stone radio show.

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