Increasing Fiber Intake
- What is Fiber
- Types of Fiber
- Benefits of increasing fiber intake
- Ways to increase fiber intake
What is fiber?
Rising rates of non-communicable diseases (NCD), including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancers, chronic kidney disease, and blood pressure, have been a significant cause of concern for health authorities worldwide.
Research findings show that adding more fiber to the diet helps lower these severe health conditions. Moreover, growing evidence also shows that adequate fiber intake may benefit from reducing the risk of chronic diseases and digestion.
Dietary fiber is a component from plant cells in which enzymes cannot be broken down and digested by the human digestive tract. Dietary fiber is also known as roughage or bulk, which includes the part of plant foods that our body cannot digest or absorb, unlike other components such as proteins, carbohydrates, or fats which our body can break down and digest by our body. Instead, it passes relatively intact through your stomach, small intestine, and colon and out of your body.
Types of fiber
There are two important fiber types: water-soluble and water-insoluble, each with different properties and characteristics.
- Soluble Water-soluble fibers absorb water during digestion. They increase stool bulk and may decrease blood cholesterol levels. Example foods with soluble fiber include bran, rice, nuts, beans, oatmeal, lentils, and blueberries.
- Insoluble Water-insoluble fibers remain unchanged during digestion. They promote regular movement of intestinal contents. Foods with insoluble fibers include wheat bran, cereals, skins of many fruits and vegetables, and brown rice.
Increasing fiber intake
- Eat whole fruits instead of drinking juice
- Replace white bread, rice, and pasta with whole-grain products and brown rice.
- May opt for cereal high in whole grain
- Snack on raw vegetables instead of crackers, chocolates, or chips.
- Substitutes beans/legumes instead of meats.
- Try opting for whole grains food or products instead of refined grains.
- Take a fiber supplement that consists of both soluble and insoluble fiber.
- Try to add chia seeds into juice, or cereal bowl
- Snack on nuts and seeds
- Include legumes in your diet
Benefits of fiber
Fiber feeds"good" gut bacteria.
Healthy gut bacteria feed on fiber, so the more fiber we eat, the better bugs flourish!
Fiber can reduce blood sugar spikes.
Specifically, fiber can help to control your blood sugar. This is because the body cannot absorb and break down fiber. Thus, this doesn't cause a spike in blood glucose. This can help keep your blood sugar in our target range.
Fiber can also reduce cholesterol
Soluble fiber can reduce the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream. For example, five to 10 grams or more of soluble fiber a day decreases your LDL cholesterol.
It helps to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.
The mechanism of dietary fiber may decrease the risk of colorectal cancer by increasing stool bulk, diluting fecal carcinogens, and decreasing transit time, thus reducing the contact between carcinogens and the lining of the colorectum.
Aids in achieving a healthy weight
Soluble fiber such as glucomannan and beta-glucan mixes with water to form a gel-like substance and vicious form that slows down the movement of digested food into the gut. This makes us feel less hungry and full longer. Eating more soluble fiber can help lose belly fat and prevent belly gain.
Fiber helps to relieve constipation.
Dietary fiber increases the size and weight of your stool and softens it. A bulky stool is easier to pass and decreases the chance of constipation. In contrast, if we have a watery stool or loose stools, fibers may also help solidify the stools as it helps to absorb water and add bulk to your stool.
High-fiber foods are good for your health. But adding too much fiber too quickly can promote intestinal gas, abdominal bloating and cramping. Increase fiber in your diet gradually over a few weeks. This allows the natural bacteria in your digestive system to adjust to the change.