Fiber, a brief background
Ten to one, you already know a bit about fiber and one of its main purposes. It helps you poo. Regularly. Now that that is out of the way (for now) here is a bit more information about it.
- It fills you up from its bulk, which means you feel full sooner and for longer. This in turn can help you limit how much you consume if you are trying to watch your weight and manage your diet.
- It stabilizes blood sugar levels.
- Has been known to lower your risk of heart disease which is a pretty big deal.
- It activates your gut through peristalsis which are little waves in your tummy to make the food move along the tract.
- Does not come from animal products so your parents were right, you do need to eat your fruits and veggies. Sorry.
Fiber and the carbohydrate connection
Fiber is similar to carbohydrates because it is several sugars linked together. Unlike carbohydrates, our bodies cannot break it down in the digestive tract so it just gets pushed through the gut for elimination (poo).
Fiber: two types
Soluble fiber: this dissolves in water and can help level out blood sugar levels. It develops a gel like consistency when mixed with water and it helps slow digestion down. If everything flies through the digestive tract, very few nutrients get absorbed so this is a biggie. It can also help lower cholesterol levels.
- Food sources:
o Legumes: beans, lentils, peas, & beans.
o Fruits: apricots, oranges, grapefruit, & mangos
o Grains: oatmeal, barley & oat bran.
o Veggies: sweet potatoes, turnips, Brussels sprouts (large amount here) & asparagus.
o Flaxseed also have a good amount of fiber, one tablespoon has roughly 1 gram of soluble fiber in it.
Insoluble fiber: does not dissolve in water. Helps keep you regular and relieve/prevent constipation.
- Food sources:
o Grains: whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, & whole grains.
o Fruits: apples, grapes, berries, plums, apricots & pears.
o Veggies: cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, cabbage, onion, corn, squash, potatoes, leafy greens & bell peppers.
Pretty Big Benefits
- Fiber can help reduce your risk of developing heart disease by lowering cholesterol, & blood pressure.
- Can help regulate glucose which reduces the risk of diabetes developing (type 2 mainly).
- Relieves constipation, although it can cause constipation if you take in too much of it without a lot of fluids.
- It also lowers your chance of developing diverticulitis which in an inflammation of the intestine along with other bowel diseases.
How much do you need?
The recommended amounts are:
- For women: until age 50, you should consume 25 grams/day. After 50, it goes down to 21 grams/day.
- For men: until age 50, you should have 38 grams/day. After age 50 it declines to 30 grams/day.
Love this chart!
Why is fiber removed from carbohydrates?
As mentioned before, fiber is very similar to carbs in structure which is why you will see it below the total carbohydrate listing on a nutrition label. However, it does not get digested by our bodies and passes through us. This is why you can subtract the dietary fiber from the total carbohydrate count. It’s really just there to tell you how much fiber is in whatever food you are getting. When you subtract it from the total carb count it also gives you a more accurate measurement of how many grams of carbs you are consuming.
A very handy picture from Diabetes Education Online
Hope this bit of info helps you out, have a great day!