Frank Salvatore
Health and Lifestyle

The Benefits of Fiber

October 1, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Which do you believe is more important, soluble or insoluble fiber? Many people don’t know there is a difference between the two. Most people consider fiber to be a nutrient that helps healthy digestion, but it does other things as well. Dietary fiber, which is plant material that is indigestible, is an essential nutrient because you have to consume it to make this type of fiber available to your body. Some foods have both soluble and insoluble fiber in them.

Any part of a food that is plant-based that is not able to break down in your system or isn’t absorbed into your body is considered to be indigestible. Fiber moves through your colon and helps move food particles along that could otherwise adhere to the sides. Food that stays stuck to your colon can lead to bloating, constipation, pain, and other health problems.

It is important to eat vegetables, nuts, seeds, and certain fruits on a regular basis to provide your body with the nutrients it needs. These foods contain the fiber that is needed to regulate your bowel movements and keep your colon clean, among other health benefits.

Soluble Fiber

Soluble fiber dissolves in water and turns into a gel when it gets to your large intestine. It is easily broken down by both liquids and gastrointestinal acids and in turn, releases certain gases.

The thick gel that is created moves into the crevices of your colon and slows down your digestion. This is great for weight control because it can help you feel fuller for a longer period of time. It also helps prevent dietary cholesterol from breaking down, which helps keep your cholesterol levels healthy. Soluble fiber slows down the rate of absorption of other nutrients in your body to prevent your blood sugar from spiking as well.

Soluble fiber also helps lower your risk of developing hypertension and heart disease. It can even aid in feeding the good bacteria in your gut.

Insoluble Fiber

Insoluble fiber stays intact while it moves through your colon. It is not digested and is therefore not a form of calories. It works to prevent constipation because it absorbs fluid as it goes through your gastrointestinal tract. It also sticks to other byproducts in your intestinal tract that help to form waste that your body wants to get rid of. This also shortens the amount of time that food spends in your colon while helping your body excrete waste. This helps keep your digestion regular.

Insoluble fiber also decreases your risk of developing diseases such as diverticulitis, which happens when your colon creates folds and increases the intestinal blockages that lead to constipation.

Overall Benefits

Overall, soluble fiber keeps you feeling full for longer by slowing digestion, and insoluble fiber takes up space in your stomach and intestines, which can help you eat less. Both kinds of fiber help decrease your risk of health conditions such as including heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.

Sources of Fiber

Many foods are rich in fiber. The best sources have at least 20% of the recommended daily value of dietary fiber for each serving, but this does not necessarily mean that the food is healthy. For example, grains are not always very healthy, even though they are high in fiber.

Healthy foods with a lot of fiber include vegetables such as green peas, artichoke, sweet potato with the skin, broccoli, spinach, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower. Some other great sources include raspberries, pears, prunes, dried dates, figs, almonds, pumpkin, apples, and bananas.

Women should aim for consuming 25 grams of fiber each day and men should try to eat 38 grams. However, it is also recommended to consume 25 to 50 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories consumed. When you increase your fiber intake, make sure that you do it slowly and drink a lot of water while doing so. As fiber travels through your gastrointestinal tract, it acts like a dry sponge, meaning it needs water to bulk up and pass through the system. Without increasing your water intake, you can become constipated if you eat too much fiber too soon.

Fiber and Gut Health

Some foods not only provide fiber, but also help improve your gut health. One example of such as food is under-ripe tropical fruits such as bananas, mango, and papaya. These foods contain digestive-resistant starch which help with the process of fermentation.

These resistant starches in your intestines feed healthy bacteria and act as prebiotics. They help to bulk up bowel movements which helps them pass through your body more easily. Additionally, they do not spike your blood sugar like ripened fruit does, so they are more likely to improve your insulin regulation.

Other good sources of resistant starch are seeds and tapioca starch, however, they are not as dense in nutrients as fruits. Some have argued that resistant starch could be considered another type of fiber.

Improving Your Microbiome and Immune System

Keeping a healthy immune system is important for preventing chronic disease. Many foods available these days hurt our immune system and can lead to illnesses and diseases. While grains like wheat and corn are usually considered to be good for increasing your fiber, there are other reasons why they actually should not be consumed on a regular basis.

These foods help promote insulin and leptin resistance and contain lectins. The way these grains are grown is important because the soil and chemicals used to treat them actually makes them worse for your health. These foods are implicated in increasing disease rates in many ways.

It is best to eat the skins of certain fruits and vegetables, especially if they are organic. When it comes to improving your microbiome, make sure to eat fermented vegetables, cabbage, turnips, carrots, parsnips and beets. In essence, root vegetables are the best for this.

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Frank Salvatore