There are many products on the market today that promote fiber in the diet. I’m sure you’ve heard people mention fiber before and how they are trying to eat more of it. Why is this? Why is fiber so important? Well, I’m going to explain that today.
First of all, fiber is found in the better for you, unprocessed carbohydrates. So when you eat more fiber, you are eating foods that a better for you in a number of ways.
In fact, the main difference between processed and unprocessed carbohydrates is the fact that the processed kind has gone through a procedure that strips them of fiber and nutrients.
Fiber in a diet helps slow digestion, which keeps your body feeling fuller for a longer period of time. When food takes longer to digest, lots of good things happen. Blood sugar levels and insulin are under control, energy is high, and body composition is typically at a healthier level.
Fiber also helps keep things flowing down there… aka you are going to have a regular poop schedule. This happens because most fiber does not get absorbed or digested by the body. So basically, fibrous foods go in one way and go out the other.
There are two types of fiber present in unprocessed, slow digesting carbohydrate foods: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber is found in foods like oats, dried beans, peas, nuts, bananas, and tomatoes. Insoluble fibers typically make up the rigid cell walls of plants like dark leafy greens, fruit skins, whole grains and seeds.
Both types of fiber are important in the diet for different reasons. Soluble fibers can decrease cholesterol levels. Insoluble fibers can increase satiety (the feeling of being full), lower blood fat and cholesterol, and improve gut health as a whole.
Soluble fiber binds to bile acids (made of fat/cholesterol) in the intestines. The intestines cannot absorb soluble fiber, which means the bile acids attached to that fiber do not get absorbed either. That is why soluble fiber can lower cholesterol levels. It literally removes cholesterol from the body. So, when you eat high fat meals, try to include some fiber along with it to remove some of the “bad” stuff.
Insoluble fiber too cannot be digested. It also attracts water. The two of those things combined mean you won’t have an problem with constipation or similar issues. Thus, insoluble fiber improves gut health.
The recommended intake of fiber is about 25 grams a day. But really, women should eat around 35 grams/day and men should stick to 48 grams/day. Just like with all nutrients, eating far more than the recommended amount is not healthy. So, try to stick to those numbers.