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What is Dietary fiber?

We live in a society where nutrition isn’t as important as it should be in our lives. With the Western culture diet filled with French fries, chocolates, hamburgers, and ice cream that we lose sight of our health as a whole. Since summer is coming up, people are in search of that “summer body look” so that they can walk the beach in confidence.

Unfortunately with the fad diets that are so popular in the media (Atkins diet, Southbeach diet, Paleo diet), makes us lose focus of one important aspect of our diet and that’s the amount of FIBER we consume. Most Americans only eat 15 grams of fiber per day (WebMD). It is recommended that women take in 25 grams of fiber, while men should take in close to 38 grams per day according to the Institute of Medicine.

What makes fiber so special, you may ask?

Benefits of a high fiber diet includes:
-Normal bowel movements which will lead to maintaining bowel health
-Lowers cholesterol and bloods sugar levels
-Healthy weight
-Lowering the risk of heart disease and diabetes

So if you’re not getting enough fiber, you can see where you’re missing out on all of these wonderful benefits.

Even though fiber is a type of carbohydrate, the human body doesn’t digest it like it does for carbohydrates. There are two different types of fibers that we eat and they are “soluble” and “insoluble” fibers.  Soluble fiber is the readily fermented fiber and dissolves in water to form a gel-like material. Soluble fiber helps with improving blood cholesterol, diabetes, and glucose levels. This type of fiber is found in oats peas, beans, apples, etc

Insoluble fiber, does not dissolve in water, but gives you that “full” feeling by expanding in the gut promoting material through your digestive system. This type of fiber is really beneficial to those with constipation and/or irregular stools as it speeds up the passage of food and waste through your gut.

So how do I increase my fiber intake? Eating more plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains foods will increase your fiber intake. So if you’re someone who craves foods, munches on foods throughout the day, or even someone who has a history of diseases such diabetes or even heart disease, check your daily fiber intake. (Rule of thumb: Check with your physician before starting a nutrition program)