You’ve probably heard you should have fiber in your diet. However, what you may not know is the “Why?” Dietary fiber is essential for maintaining your health in a lot of different ways. Fiber is best known for its ability to allow people to go to the bathroom regularly by preventing and relieving constipation. Adding fiber into one’s diet isn’t hard; in fact, by adding fiber into your diet, your overall eating habits will improve for the better.
Dietary fiber is the parts of plant foods that the human body cannot absorb or digest. It passes through the stomach, intestines, and colon nearly intact before exiting. Fiber is classified in two ways: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and forms into a gel-like substance.
Soluble fiber helps lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels. It can be found in oats, beans, apples, barley, psyllium, and citrus fruits.
Insoluble fiber helps move things through the digestive system and increases the bulk of the stool, so going to the bathroom isn’t a struggle or infrequent occurrence. Insoluble fiber can be found in wheat bran, whole wheat flour, beans, nuts, cauliflower, potatoes, and green beans.
Foods that contain both soluble and insoluble fiber include: oatmeal, and beans. Overall, the best food sources to get fiber from are whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, and legumes. There are plenty of high-fiber breads and protein bars on the market too. These products often offer an unnaturally high amount which can result in rapid changes in your bowel function (gas, cramping and larger stools).
When it comes to daily fiber intake, a woman should have between 20 to 30 grams per day and a man should have between 30 to 40 grams per day. Besides the major benefit of normalizing bowel movements, dietary fiber provides a lot of other benefits to the body, including:
- Lowering the risk of developing hemorrhoids and small pouches known as diverticula in the colon.
- Reduces cholesterol by lowering low lipoprotein (“bad/LDL”) cholesterol.
- Reduces inflammation.
- Slow the absorption of sugar to improve blood sugar levels.
- Reduces the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
- Keeps a person fuller and so may decrease total caloric intake (facilitate weight loss).
- May reduce colorectal cancer risk.
If you’re having trouble getting the right amount of fiber into your diet or feel that fiber is upsetting your stomach or bathroom habits, it’s best you reach out to a doctor. Make an appointment today with Dr. Kordonowy of Internal Medicine, Lipid & Wellness of Fort Myers. He offers dietary and counseling to his patients. To book an appointment or for more information, call 239-362-3005, Ext. 200 or click here.