Fiber and its role in our diets
Published 10:00 pm Thursday, February 25, 2016
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 the body.
Fiber remains intact as it passes from the stomach, through the small, and large intestines. Fiber is usually put into one of two categories: soluble fiber, or fiber that dissolves in water, and insoluble fiber which 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 is 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.
High fiber foods can aid in weight loss too. 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. For this reason, you would subtract the number of fiber grams from your total carbohydrate intake. So, just how much fiber do we need? I recommend my clients get between 25-35 grams of fiber a day.
Be careful though. Increase your fiber intake slowly. This will help prevent bloating and cramping. Also, make sure your water intake increases, as you increase your fiber.
Fitness or nutrition question? Email me at email@example.com or visit fitness4yourlife.org. David Crocker of Landrum has been a nutritionist and master personal trainer for 29 years. He served as strength director for the Spartanburg Y.M.C.A., head strength coach for the USC Upstate baseball team, the S.C. state champion girls gymnastic team, and the Converse College equestrian team. He served as a water safety instructor to the United States Marine Corps, and taught for four semesters at USC Union. David was also a regular guest of the Pam Stone radio show.