Ever had issues on bowel movements like getting constipated in spite of staying physically active and drinking much water? Is your cholesterol level higher than the ideal or normal levels? If yes to any of these, consider your fiber intake. It is not a nutrient but is one key to a healthy gut or digestive system. It is one great reason why intake of fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts as well as whole grains in less or unprocessed form is advocated. Processing can reduce or even eliminate the fiber content.
Also known as roughage, fiber naturally occurs in plants so that when we eat foods of plant origin and in their unprocessed form, we consume fiber. Unlike other types of carbohydrates that breakdown to yield glucose, fiber remains undigested, travels intact or unbroken into and cleanses the colon. Some act as food for the gut bacteria helping promote a healthy microbiome as more colonies of good bacteria are formed. Some are non-fermentable by the bacteria therein. It lowers the risk to conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, gut diseases like diverticular diseases and constipation. Good sources are whole grains, whole fruits, vegetable, seeds and nuts.
Fiber maybe soluble and insoluble. Insoluble fiber adds bulk and weight to the stool and promotes fecal movement through and cleanses the digestive system thus beneficial to those who struggle with constipation or irregular stools with its laxative effect. Very good sources are whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts, beans and vegetables such as cauliflower, green beans and potatoes.
Soluble fiber dissolves in water to form a viscous, gel-like material and is beneficial in regulating blood sugar and cholesterol. As fiber slows down digestion, the release of glucose into the bloodstream is slow thus regulated. So with the cholesterol. Oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, barley, chia seeds and psyllium are good sources.
To derive the health benefits, one is advised to consume about 25 grams of fiber everyday. This can be derived from five servings of fruits and vegetables added to the recommended consumption of whole grains. One-half cup of cooked or one cup of raw vegetables constitute a serving. A serving of fruit varies from a regular size of lakatan, one-half of a medium-sized mango, a regular slice of pineapple, papaya, watermelon and the like. Avocado in this context is not classified as fruit but rather a source of fat.
Help make your gut and heart healthy with adequate fiber intake everyday!