Fiber – Important Tips to Know About Fiber

So you’re back at your annual exam with your physician and you are told to add more fiber to your diet. “It will help lower your health risks for certain diseases, your doctor may hurriedly say.” And since you don’t want to “bother” your doctor, you may go away from your appointment wondering exactly what health risks you would lower if you added more fiber to your diet. Furthermore, you may be puzzled about how exactly to add more fiber to your daily routine.

Here are some answers to the most asked questions about fiber, and the Health Benefits of Fiber.

foods-to-add-fiberFirst, let’s begin by discussing some general facts about fiber. The parts of vegetables, fruits,, and grains that are indigestible by the body is called fiber. There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble fiber.

Soluble fiber, is the type of fiber that will dissolve easily in water. Soluble fiber becomes soft and has a texture that is gelatinous in the intestines of the body. Soluble fiber is also known as a regulator for the flow of waste products through the digestive system. Found in oatmeal, psyllium, oat bran, beans, peas, rice bran, barley strawberries, citrus fruits, and apple pulp, soluble fiber is available in a variety of foods. Oats have the highest percentage of soluble fiber than any other grain product. Increasing the amount of soluble fiber in the diet is recommended and is one of the steps you can take to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. This type of fiber can also be useful for those who are interested in lowering their cholesterol levels and to help maintain blood sugar levels.

Insoluble fiber, found in foods including wheat cereals, whole wheat breads, wheat bran, and vegetables, is the type of fiber that cannot be dissolved in water and is undigestible by the body. It largely passes through the intestinal system unchanged and collects water which serves to bulk up the stool, which promotes the movement of bowels and makes it easier to pass. The larger stool, serves as a type of “cleaner” for the walls of the intestine (the stool because it is thicker, can “clean” the pipes (which are your intestinal walls). This type of fiber is useful for people who have problems with constipation or irregular bowel habits.

On average most Americans only consume one-half of the fiber that we need. It is estimated that generally we have only 10-15 grams of fiber per day, where we should be including around 20-40 grams of fiber per day. In areas of the world where high fiber diets are consumed, there are lower incidences of appendicitis, colon cancers, appendicitis, and diverticulitis. Areas of the industrialized world, however, with dietary habits which are higher in fat and lower in fiber, have increased rates of these diseases.

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Ok so now we’ve determined, that it is indeed very important to get enough fiber in your diet, but wait, your doctor may not have told you about the following tips for increasing your fiber.

1. Start slow: If you’re used to having a low fiber diet, adding too much fiber too quickly can lead to abdominal discomfort or cramps. So add in the additional fiber slowly and build up to the recommended amounts of fiber over a few days or a weeks time. Listen to your body and back off the fiber if you’re getting uncomfortable with bloating, or cramping, then slowly start adding in more fiber as your system adjusts to it.

2. Make sure to include increased amounts of water when you are increasing your fiber. An added benefit of fiber is that it can help you feel full quicker and stay full longer, and adding water to your system is very important to make sure that the fiber has enough water to do it’s job in your intestines.

3. Don’t start adding fiber to your diet when you won’t have easy access to a rest room. Let’s say for example, if you are a tennis player and have a match scheduled at 9:00 a.m., then don’t add increased amounts of fiber to your diet when you’re not certain how your body will react, until after your tennis match. Once your body is accustomed to having increased fiber, then you can safely consume it throughout the day, but don’t begin adding it before events where you may not have easy access to a rest room before you know how the fiber affects your body.