Why You Should Focus on Fiber

What is Dietary Fiber?

Fiber, or dietary fiber, is a carbohydrate that comes from plants. It falls under the category of carbohydrates but is different from most carbs because it can’t be broken down to sugar (glucose) like the others.

There are 2 types:

Soluble fiber is able to be dissolved in water. It becomes a gel as it absorbs water. This is the type of fiber that slows digestion to keep us fuller for longer.

Find it in beans, avocados, chia seeds and most vegetables.

Insoluble fiber cannot be dissolved in water. That means it goes into our digestive system and comes out mostly unaltered. This type of fiber is described as a ‘bulking agent’ since it adds volume to out stool and keeps us regular – it prevents constipation and promotes regularity.

Find it in whole grains, beans, corn, cabbage, and many other vegetables.

That’s right…most vegetables have a combination of both types of fiber, so it is pretty easy to get plenty of both!

Why do we need fiber?

Here are a few reasons to focus on fiber:

Our bodies can’t make fiber so we need to make sure we consume it in our diets to help out our digestive system.

Fiber helps promote stable blood sugars. They’re healthy carbs that prevent large spikes and valleys in our glucose control.

Fiber has been linked to decreasing the chance of developing cancer and increasing life spans. Fiber’s “scrubby” nature helps eliminate bacteria within the intestines – which can help prevent colon cancer. Overall, keeping your digestive system healthy has been shown to have amazing health benefits on the rest of our body.

Regular fiber intake has a significant impact on weight loss and weight maintenance. It adds to the feeling of satiety and fullness which, in turn, can queue us to avoid that second helping of dinner.

How much fiber do we need?

Chances are that you aren’t getting enough fiber in your day.

The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans states 90% of women and 97% of men are not meeting their recommended fiber intakes.

  • Adult women: 22-28g/day
  • Adult men: 28-34g/day

Best way to try to hit this goal? Choose whole grains, have fruits or vegetables at every meal, and choose produce for afternoon snacks.

In Good Health,

Lindsey Hudsmith, RDN 

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