What is Fiber?
Fiber is made up of the indigestible parts of plants which pass through the stomach and intestines. Its main role is to keep the digestive system healthy. Fiber is a carbohydrate and can help to stabilise glucose and cholesterol levels.
Not enough high fiber food in your diet may result in you getting one of the following disorders:
Constipation; this is a difficulty in passing hard faeces and in some cases can be extremely painful. In later stages of constipation, the abdomen may become distended and tender.
Irritable bowel syndrome; you may experience some pain, flatulence and bloating of the abdomen.
Diverticulitis; these are small hernias of the digestive tract.
Heart disease, a narrowing of the arteries caused by high cholesterol
Colorectal cancer also called colon or bowel cancer; includes cancerous growths in the colon and rectum.
Haemorrhoids, also commonly known as piles; are varicose veins or swelling and inflammation of the rectum and anus.
It is also worth mentioning that the digestive system slows down with age so a high fiber diet is more important for older people.
Insoluble fiber can be found in a variety of foods; vegetables such as carrot, celery, green beans, cauliflower and potato skins, whole grain foods, bran, nuts and seeds, and the skins of some fruit (including tomatoes)
Their major role is to bulk faeces and prevent constipation and associated problems. It provides bulk to the diet and speeds everything through the bowel and may help to prevent bowel cancer.
Soluble fiber can be found in fruits such as apples, bananas and berries, vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, potatoes and yams, peas and beans, oats, rye and barley.
Soluble fiber also lowers cholesterol levels and helps to prevent heart disease. It can also help to prevent constipation.
This is found in many foods like grains, firm bananas, lentils and potatoes. It helps to improve bowel health.
How Much Do You Need?
Opinion varies around the world, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) ranges from 12 to 30 grams per day for adults. Children should eat 10 grams plus 1 gram per year of their age. For example, a 4 year old should eat 14 grams per day.
Tips To Help Boost Your Intake:-
*Change to wholemeal or wholegrain breads or rolls; these contain all 3 parts of the grain.
*Eat breakfast cereals which are wholegrain or contain wheat, bran or oats.
*Eat wholemeal pasta and brown rice.
*Eat fresh fruit rather than drinking fruit juice because fruit juice is often sweetened and contains artificial colors and flavors but fresh fruit has natural sugars and is full of essential vitamins and minerals.
*Add beans, barley and lentils into your soups and casseroles.
*Eat a variety of fruit and vegetables. They are low in fat, salt and sugar and a good source of dietary fiber.
*Make sure that you drink lots of fluid to enable your body to digest the fiber.
Fiber can help in weight loss because foods high in fiber are often bulky and more filling. Therefore, you will get fuller quicker and will not eat as much.
Fiber slows glucose absorption from the small intestine into the blood and therefore reduces the possibility of a surge of insulin.
Although fiber is an important factor in your diet, it is also important to gradually increase your fiber intake, a sudden increase could cause increased flatulence and abdominal pains.
Always remember to contact your Family Practitioner, Dietician or Child Health Nurse for further advice before making any changes to your diet and health program.
Dawn Robertshaw has written numerous articles and ebooks on coping with life in the 21st century. For more free articles, tips, advice and a range of health and relationship targeted information products in written and audio form for immediate download visit us at www.InThe21stCentury.com