You’ve already heard about how fiber can help you stay regular and feel full. But do you know how necessary it really is?
Fiber is also sometimes used in the treatment of diverticulosis, diabetes, and heart disease. Fiber comes in two forms – soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber attracts water and turns to gel during digestion, slowing the digestion process. It can help lower cholesterol and is found in oat bran, barley, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, peas and some fruits and vegetables.
Insoluble fiber speeds the passage of foods through the stomach and intestines, adding bulk to the stool, which can help ease both constipation and diarrhea. Insoluble fiber is found in wheat bran, vegetables and whole grains. The recommended amount of fiber is 25 to 35 grams per day. To make sure you get enough eat a variety of fiber-rich foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, cereals beans and peas.
Make sure you monitor your intake. Eating too much fiber can result in intestinal gas, bloating and abdominal cramps. This usually goes away once your digestive system gets used to the increase in fiber, so adding fiber gradually to the diet instead of all at one time can help reduce these symptoms.
Also, too much fiber may interfere with the absorption of minerals such as iron, zinc, magnesium and calcium, but high-fiber foods are typically rich in minerals so the concern is minimal.
The next time you’re thinking of reaching for junk food, think about fiber!