Why is Fiber Important for Optimal Health?
Before I started studying nutrition, I used to think of fiber only as a substance that helped regulate the body with waste elimination. Although fiber does maintain a healthy bowel movement, there are many other benefits to it. Lets start by understanding what it is and how it works, and then we’ll look at its benefits.
First of all, fiber is a carbohydrate from plants that our bodies cannot digest because humans lack the enzyme cellulase to break it down. Even though we cannot digest it, it is an essential part of a healthy diet. There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber forms a gel when water is present. Fruits, vegetables, grains, and plant foods usually contain both types of fiber but are higher in one or the other. Most fiber in fruits, oats, chia, and flaxseed is considered soluble fiber. Insoluble fiber does not absorb water, and it adds bulk to intestinal waste, speeding up intestinal transit time. Usually, vegetables and most grain products have a higher content of insoluble fiber.
So, how is fiber beneficial for health?
Cardiovascular Disease- studies have shown that consumption of a high fiber diet was related to lower serum cholesterol and LDL cholesterol concentration.
Diabetes- studies show that high fiber diets reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. They also result in an improved glycemic control in people with diabetes or prediabetes. This is because the insoluble fiber forms a gel that reduces glucose absorption.
Gastrointestinal disorders- disorders such as constipation, diverticular disease, and colon cancer have previously been linked to low consumption of fiber. A diet high in fiber could prevent or reduce the risk of these disorders as well.
Weight control- there is some evidence that foods high in fiber can promote satiety and reduce appetite. Although others studies do not share the same results, consuming a healthy high fiber diet (lots of vegetables and fruits) is plays an important role in weight control.
My goal with this post is NOT for you to go buy a fiber supplement to obtain the benefits of fiber, but to make you aware of how important it is to eat a healthy and balanced diet. Consuming foods that are excellent sources of fiber is crucial in gaining optimal health.
The recommended fiber intake a day is:
-Men- 31-38 grams
-Women- 21-25 grams
-Children- 19-25 grams
Sources of Fiber (Try to include at least one of these delicious foods in every meal)
many others vegetables, fruits, plant foods, and grains
Please, let me know in the comments if you have any questions!