Everyone has heard that there are tremendous benefits to increasing the fiber content of their diet. The daily recommendation is over 25 grams of fiber/day. As you look at total dietary fiber grams on a label, deduct the listed amount from the 25 grams/day recommendation. So, a wrap containing 8 grams of fiber would leave you with about 17 more grams/day needed to meet the minimum.
Fiber not only promotes health, it also helps reduce the risk for some chronic diseases. For instance, fiber prevents constipation, hemorrhoids and diverticulosis. It is also linked to prevent some cancers especially colon cancer as it moves food through the GI tract instead of it sitting in the gut for longer periods of time. (Unfortunately, many of our foods are exposed to chemicals, fertilizers, hormones, antibiotics that were never meant to sit in the GI tract.) In addition, fiber helps lower LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol thereby reducing the risk of heart disease. Fiber can also help lower blood sugar spikes as it does not convert to blood sugar and allows food to leave the stomach in controlled amounts . Fiber is part of the total carb content of a food but does not translate into blood sugar and insulin release. Fiber aids in weight loss….high fiber foods require more chewing time allowing time for your body to register when you are full. High fiber diets are also less calorie dense which means they have fewer calories for the same volume of food.
Types of Fiber: Soluble Fiber and Insoluble Fiber
There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Both types go undigested and neither enters the bloodstream. Although some food companies choose to show the grams of soluble and insoluble fiber separately, both types are very beneficial. Soluble fiber forms a gel when mixed with liquid. I think of it as a sponge that soaks up and carries waste “out the door” and moves bulk along through the intestines. Insoluble fiber passes through our intestines largely intact. I think of insoluble fiber as a toothbrush that travels down the intestines cleaning as it moves along.
Promotes the development of bulkier stool to help prevent constipation.
Helps balance the pH in the intestines forming a healthy GI environment and preventing microbes from producing cancerous substances.
Helps move toxins through the colon in less time
Dark green leafy vegetables
Skins from fruit or potatoes
Whole wheat products
Wheat bran, corn bran
Lowers total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol
Helps decrease blood sugar spikes
Binds with fatty acids
Food Sources of Soluble Fiber
Dried beans and peas (legumes)
When you are choosing a food, look for total fiber grams. There is no need to search for soluble or insoluble fiber as they are both very healthful. And…some foods: oats, oat bran, psyllium husk, and flax seeds are high in soluble and insoluble fiber.