We all hear that fiber is good for you yet many American's don't get enough of it in their diets.  Experts recommend that men get about 38 grams of fiber a day and women get about 25 grams.  Unfortunately, the average intake in the United States is only 14 grams a day.

Dietary fiber is found in fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains.   It is often referred to as "bulk" or "roughage" and it helps with digestion and it passes through the digestive system relatively unchanged.  Besides helping relieve constipation and other bowel problems, high fiber diets have been shown to help with weight loss and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and certain cancers.

Different types of fiber affect your health in different ways.  There are two types of fiber:   soluble and insoluble.   Soluble fiber may help lower blood sugar and cholesterol and it is found in oat bran, beans, peas, and most fruits.   Insoluble fiber is most used to treat GI conditions like diverticulosis, and is found in wheat bran and some vegetables.

Store shelves are filled with fiber-fortified products including yogurt, juices, etc.   Added fibers, like those in these products, are "isolated" fibers, such as inulin and maltodextrin and are listed among the ingredients.  Research suggests that these isolated fibers may not be as beneficial as those found naturally in foods.  However, most experts say the type of fiber you eat is less important than making sure you eat enough!

To learn more about fiber, check out a recent publication from the NIH.

Tags: 

Comments

\Research suggests that these isolated fibers may not be as beneficial as those found naturally in foods.\ Why does everything need to be processed? Just go out and eat an apple!

Constipation, weight gain, blood sugar fluctuations and diet-related nausea & tiredness are all signs of low fiber too... It's indeed a very serious problem more people should be aware of!

I myself get enough fiber from my food but it's alarming how bad the situation actually is. I'm not sure if people just don't understand the importance of fiber or is it just that they don't care. This sure is informative arcitle and I think every human who doesn't eat enough fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains should read some valuable information like this and take action.

I was surprised to see that maltodextrin is suggested as a beneficial fiber. I have always thought of it more as a loosely-bound sugar molecule that barely manages a "complex carb" label, due to the speed with which the hydrogen bonds start breaking down simply from the saliva. What might be technically labeled a complex carb at your lips, readily approaches a simple carb shortly after passing your tongue and entering your stomach. Maltodextrin is a common ingredient that my sister and I, both, watch for on labels because of our sensitivities to added sugars, especially since it is derived from corn sugars, and we both have allergies to corn. I just really would never have considered it for possible inclusion in a discussion of healthy fibers. I think I would have to disagree with the so-called "experts" in this case; I believe the type of fiber you eat is every bit as important as how much. Interesting to see this perspective.

I think a lot people forget that even if you have a high fiber diet you still risk being constipated. One key factor is drinking a lot of water, to help keep you regular.

In this day and age of fast food lunches, 38 grams of fiber is very hard to come by! I guess we should all start eating only at salad bars for lunch. I've taken to trying to increase my fiber intake by snacking on raw fruits and vegetables multiple times a day. That way, when lunch or dinner rolls around I tend to eat less.

My experience is that the best source of fiber is whole grains. That is only half of the equation. In order for whole grains to do their job it is equally important to chew extremely well.

Got to agree, fiber is so often overlooked as essential for weight loss its astounding. Increasing the fiber intake in your diet can make you feel full and reduce your snacking urges, as well as increase your nutrient uptake by aiding digestion. Great post :)

I agree with Bill Evans' comment. Maltodextrin is often classified as a complex carbohydrate because it is made up of branched chains of glucose molecules. However, it is digested very quickly and has a high glycemic index, so in that respect it's much more like a simple sugar. Maltodextrin shows up in almost all processed foods and in unexpected places like fillers in vitamins, pharmaceuticals, and "sugar substitutes" like splenda. What is maltodextrin doing in all these things? Always check the label.

Another positive aspect of fiber is that it also helps preventing colon cancer.

Fiber is very important to our health. Our digestive system needs to be looked after. It is important to get an adequate amount of fiber but like everything too much of anything is no good. What we consume should be a much bigger deal in our school system than it is. Our children should know much more than they do about food and its effect on us when we get older.

Add new comment

CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.