Alright What’s the Deal With Fiber?
Do you sometimes have the feeling that the word fiber is following you around? It’s become one of those dieting buzzwords – everywhere you turn your head, someone’s talking about it.
On top of that, you may be tempted to freak out if someone told you that “you’re not getting enough” though you feel just fine.
So, you’ve probably asked yourself: what’s the deal with fiber? Because truth be told, everyone keeps talking about how important it is but no one really tells you much about what it actually is – let alone about the different types.
Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered! Keep reading on as we solve one of the biggest mysteries of the 21st century!
What Is Fiber Really?
Here’s the most simple answer – fiber is a carb. Really, it is!
If you don’t know how many carbs to eat, head over to our Flexible Dieting Calculator to find out!
But here’s where it gets tricky: it’s a type of carb your body can’t digest.
You know how your body breaks down carb molecules into sugar molecules and then you get energy out of them and so on?
Not in this case; since your body can’t digest fiber – it just… passes through.
One may think now: why would I need fiber if it’s just passing through me?
Well… it makes other important things pass, if you know what I mean.
However, there’s a twist in the story: there’s more than one type. Tricky, huh?
There are two types of fiber and both are pretty important:
1) Soluble Fiber
As the name may suggest – soluble fiber is able to soak up water and turn it into a gel during digestion.
To get a better idea of that gel, think of what happens when you add water to oats – exactly, they get smooth and sticky.
The gel formed by the soluble fiber keeps your stool hydrated, preventing you from experiencing any digestion disorder whatsoever, be that constipation or diarrhea.
The gel also has another major benefit – since it slows down your digestion, it leaves you feeling full longer!
2) Insoluble Fiber
This type of fiber can’t do much in regards to soaking water and keeping you full. In this case, think about what happens when you add water to fruit seeds or nuts – not much, right?
However, that doesn’t mean its role should be diminished. The insoluble fiber – also called roughage – adds bulk to your stool so you know… things can move along.
What’s the Bottom Line?
Well, even though fiber can’t be actually digested by your body, it’s still massively important for your digestive system – it keeps your digestive system on track!
If you don’t eat enough – and different studies have shown that the average adult eats less than half of the daily recommended dose – you’re very likely going to experience constipation as one of the first signs.
Other consequences may be an increased risk of heart disease, high cholesterol levels, and high blood sugar levels – and you have to admit, that’s a pretty bad trio to deal with.
Let’s eat as much fiber as possible then!
Hold it now – eating too much is just as bad as eating too little!
In fact, eating too much can make you constipated as well – or give you nasty diarrhea. On top of that, it can leave you feeling bloated, give you abdominal cramps, and even leave your body completely dehydrated and stripped out of important minerals.
Again, as with everything else, moderation is key.
Keeping Track of Fiber
A great way to see how you’re doing is to simply start tracking the amount you’re getting from your meals.
The recommended daily intake of fiber may vary from person to person though the general recommendation is:
25 to 30 grams per day from food sources.
Don’t get shocked if you learn that yours isn’t nearly up there, as different studies have shown that Americans get a mere 15 grams of fiber from food!
However, even if you have an obvious fiber deficit, start slowly and give your body enough time to get used to the increased intake.
Otherwise, you could experience the symptoms of too much fiber – and those cramps aren’t very nice.
On top of that, always listen to your body and see how it responds when you adjust your fiber intake.
It might take you a while to figure out what works best for you but eventually, but you’ll get there.
Here’s a list of foods that contain fiber. You can even print it and it could help you out with your meal planning.
Soluble Food List:
- Grains – oatmeal, oat bran, barley
- Legumes – peas, lentils, some types of beans (kidney beans, black beans, navy beans)
- Fruit – pears, apples, oranges, grapefruits, bananas, apricots, mangoes
- Vegetables – Avocado, Brussel sprouts, asparagus
- Flaxseeds – don’t get confused, even though it’s a type of seeds, it still has fiber!
- Psyllium husk – a pretty common fiber supplement
Insoluble Food List:
- Whole grains – wheat bran, popcorn
- Fruits – look for fruits with seeds and skin you can eat (raspberries, apples, figs)
- Vegetables – majority of veggies have insoluble fiber
- Nuts & seeds – all sorts really
Do you think there’s anything we’ve missed out on or there’s anything you’d like to add? If so, feel free to let us know in the comments – we’d love to hear back from you!
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