What is Fiber
Fiber is a form of carbohydrate which can’t be digested by the body. It is also known as bulk or roughage and it’s mostly derived from plant-based foods. Fiber is classified under two categories soluble fiber which dissolves in water and insoluble fiber which doesn’t dissolve in water.
Why Do People Take Fiber
This nutrient is an essential part of a well-balanced diet. Fiber provides a consumer with a lot of benefits which can be witnessed externally and also experienced internally. Some of the benefits of fiber include:
Promoting Bowel Movements and Bowel Health
Fiber can’t be digested in the stomach. It mainly increases the bulk of the stool. In addition to that, it also softens it. When the stool is bulky, it becomes easier for it to be excreted thereby reducing the risk of constipation. Apart from that, this nutrient helps to reduce the risk of certain diseases by promoting good bowel health. It reduces the chances of an individual contracting diverticular disease, hemorrhoids among others.
Enhancing Weight Loss
Fiber helps to curb hunger pangs. It reduces food cravings and promotes the feeling of satiety which can last for long periods of time. A fiber-rich food reduces the dieter’s overall calorie intake which leads to the conversion of fat to energy or fuel.
Regulating the Blood Sugar Levels
Fiber, especially the soluble fiber is great for diabetics. This is because it helps to slow down sugar absorption to the bloodstream. It also regulates the blood sugar levels. Note that a healthy diet that is rich in soluble fiber helps to reduce the risk of diabetes type 2.
Moderating the Blood Cholesterol
Soluble fiber can significantly lower blood cholesterol. This nutrient helps to lower the density of the low density “bad cholesterol” lipoprotein. Reports from research studies show that it can provide other health benefits which includes lowering the blood pressure, reducing inflammation and improving heart health.
Note that soluble fiber is responsible for lowering the blood sugar levels and cholesterol. On the other hand, insoluble fiber forms the bulk of the stool. It reduces the risk of digestive problems such as irregular bowel movements and constipation.
The Recommended Daily Fiber Intake
According to the Institute of Medicine, it’s recommended that men and women over the age of 50 should take about 30g and 21g of fiber daily. Men and women under the age of 50 should take 38g and 25 g of fiber respectively. Younger people need more fiber in order to facilitate growth and development.
Foods with High Fiber Content
There are various foods which are rich in fiber. If you are consuming foods with inadequate fiber, you might end up experiencing a deficiency that causes side effects. Some of the foods which can help you to increase your fiber intake include:
- Fruits and Vegetables
- Whole-grain products
- Nuts and seeds
- Legumes such as peas and beans.
Tips on How to Increase Fiber Intake
- Take cereals which contain a whole grain as the first ingredient for breakfast.
- Replace your weekly meat intake with beans or peas.
- Avoid fruit juices and substitute them with whole fruits.
- Eat whole grains and brown rice in place of pasta, bread or white rice.
- Avoid snacks such as chocolate bars, crackers, and chips and replace them with raw vegetables.
How Does Protein & Fiber Work Together
Any healthy diet must have both fiber and protein. They work together to provide the consumer with the necessary nutrients that are required for growth as well as weight loss. Protein, for instance, helps to promote the growth and maintenance of muscles. It enhances thermogenesis which leads to the production of heat. Additionally, this nutrient also increases the rate of metabolism leading to a healthy weight. Fiber, on the other hand, isn’t digestible and it promotes the feeling of satiety without providing the dieter with any calories. Fiber and protein work together to maintain a healthy weight.
Side Effects of Fiber
Most people might actually fail to meet their daily fiber requirements however, some people may end up taking fiber in excess amounts which can be very dangerous. The most common side effects of fiber include:
- Abdominal bloating
- Diarrhea or loose stools
- Irregular bowel movements
- People with crown’s disease might end up with an intestinal blockage
- Weight gain which can be temporary
In case you end up experiencing nausea, fever, inability to pass stool or gas as well as vomiting, ensure that you consult with your health care provider as soon as you can.
Fiber has a lot of benefits and that’s why it’s an essential part of a healthy diet. It promotes weight loss and the overall wellness of the consumer. However, this nutrient should be consumed in moderation for it to be effective. This is because a very high fiber content in your diet can result in serious side effects. If you want to increase your fiber intake, ensure that you do it gradually.