Why Is Fiber Important For Digestive Health

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There are two types of dietary fiber in foods. Insoluble fiber helps to move materials through your digestive system. It aids with keeping bowel movements regular and relieving constipation.

Insoluble fiber promotes the elimination of wastes from the body and this may help prevent diverticulosis and other diseases of the colon. Diverticulosis occurs when pockets form in your intestinal tract. Then when food gets stuck in these pouches they become inflamed and may cause severe pain in the abdomen as well as diarrhea. Insoluble fiber is found in foods such as beans, whole wheat flours, nuts, wheat bran, the skins of apples, dried fruit and cauliflower.

Soluble fiber dissolves in water and forms a gel type substance. Once in your small intestines soluble fiber binds with the fluids and this gel slows down the absorption of the food permitting the body time to absorb the minerals and vitamins before the food is eliminated. Soluble fiber is found in foods such as oatmeal, beans, citrus fruits and carrots. Soluble fiber aids in lowering glucose levels and cholesterol levels.

Most plant based foods contain both insoluble and soluble fibers.

It is important for good health to include adequate fiber in your diet daily. Most women under 50 need approximately 25 grams of fiber each day and men approximately 35 grams daily. After age 50 you need slightly less fiber. Many people are not consuming anywhere near the recommended amounts of fiber.

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You can increase your fiber intake using fiber supplements, but it is probably more advantageous to get your fiber from your foods.

In order to increase the fiber in your diet try eating a whole grain or high fiber cereal containing at least 5 grams of fiber for breakfast. Choose bread with at least 3 grams of fiber per slice and with whole wheat or another whole grain listed as the first ingredient. Try using whole wheat flour for a portion of the white flour when baking. Include more vegetables in soups or stews or puree vegetables and include in sauces. Add fruit to your meals. Choose fruits and nuts or raw veggies with a dip as snack food. Be careful of the calories from nuts and dried fruits so eat a small portion of these if you have a weight problem.

If you have not been eating a high fiber diet do not immediately start eating lots of fiber. You need to gradually add fiber to your diet so your system can adjust. Too much fiber can cause gas, bloating, cramping, diarrhea or constipation. Increase your fiber intake slowly over a period of several weeks.

In order to avoid problems be sure to consume plenty of water and other liquids when you increase your fiber intake.

People who have symptoms of a disease such as Cohn’s disease or irritable bowel syndrome should be careful about increasing their fiber consumption and should consult their health care professional for guidance.