The best sources of fiber
We all know that a balanced diet is healthier and provides us with all the nutrients we need, but it's usually just about the amount of protein, fat and carbohydrates we need. Fiber is less often mentioned because it does not contain nutrients - however, fiber is also vital for our body.
What is fiber?
Fiber is a general term that refers to any type of food fiber that is not digested (also called fiber). Fiber is not broken down or absorbed by the body because our digestive system does not release enzymes that can break down the fiber we eat. Despite the fact that the body does not use these substances as fuel, they have a significant impact on both our well-being and health.
The amount of fiber in the nutritional value of a food is usually not indicated because it does not contain nutrients.
Types of fibers
There are two types of fiber:
- Water-soluble fiber is a food source for intestinal bacteria, which in turn is important for human immunity and helps regulate sleep, appetite and mood. Good sources of water-soluble fiber are oatmeal, nuts, beans, lentils, apples, citrus fruits, blueberries.
- Water-insoluble fiber - improves the functioning of the digestive system ("clean" the intestines, thus promoting both nutrient absorption and detoxification). Helps reduce constipation and / or irregular bowel movements. Good sources of water-insoluble fiber are whole grains (eg wholemeal bread, brown rice, etc.), bran, nuts, legumes, vegetables (eg carrots, cabbage, cucumbers, tomatoes, etc.).
Both fruits and vegetables and cereals usually contain only different amounts of fiber, so the menu needs to be varied to get the most benefit.
Peeling the fruit and removing the outer skins of the cereals reduces the fiber content. It is therefore better to choose unpeeled fruit and unprocessed cereals (whole grain products).
Read more about how a healthy diet affects your mood HERE.
Why do we need fiber?
Fiber performs many functions in our body, I will name only the most important:
- Promotes the functioning of the digestive system (promotes the absorption of nutrients, reduces the risk of constipation);
- "Nourishes" the intestinal microflora, which produces natural antibacterial agents and regulates our body's immune and allergic reactions;
- Helps control the level of sugar and cholesterol in the blood. (read more about cholesterol HERE);
- Promotes the body's cleansing from harmful substances;
- Reduces hunger (slows down digestive processes) thus helping to avoid overeating and control your weight.
Several studies show that fiber intake reduces the risk of death (for whatever reason). In the studies, people who ate more fiber had a reduced risk of death by 23% compared with those who did not eat enough fiber. This relationship was particularly clear when fiber was ingested from cereals and vegetables, not from fruits.
An analysis of almost 250 studies confirms that, High fiber intake from vegetables, fruits and whole grains can reduce the risk of death from heart disease and cancer. People who ate more fiber had a 16% to 24% risk of dying from heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and / or colon cancer compared with people who ate very little fiber. A meta-analysis of these studies also concluded that more fiber is better. For each additional 8 grams of fiber ingested, the risk of each disease was further reduced by 5% to 27%. The reduction in risk was greatest at a daily fiber dose of 25 to 29 grams.
How much fiber do we need?
Most studies recommend the following amounts of fiber as optimal:
Up to 50 years of age
After 50 years
38 g / day
30 g / day
25 g / day
21 g / day
Or about 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories ingested.
The best fiber is to be absorbed with whole grains and vegetables. The intake of fiber in food supplements is not recommended because, although many fiber supplements are fortified with vitamins and minerals, they are processed and semi-synthetic products.
Fiber supplements are recommended for specific health problems such as constipation, diarrhea or irritable bowel syndrome. Talk to your doctor before taking fiber supplements.
How to increase fiber intake?
You should definitely not change your diet radically and quickly, as a sudden switch to a high-fiber diet can cause unpleasant side effects. For example, bloating and meteorism. Increase the amount of fiber in your diet gradually - this will allow the bacteria to adapt to changes in your digestive system.
Despite the beneficial effects of the fiber described above on our health, I recommend that you do not overdo it. Excessive intake of fiber (more than 70 g per day) can cause abdominal cramps and a deficiency of vitamins and minerals (especially calcium, magnesium and zinc), as fiber can limit their absorption. There is also an increased risk of bowel obstruction - so if you eat more fiber, you also need to drink more water. Read more about the importance of water in our body HERE.
How to increase your fiber intake:
- For breakfast, choose a high-fiber breakfast cereal (5 g or more of fiber per serving). For instance wholemeal porridge, or add a few tablespoons of raw wheat bran to your favorite breakfast;
- Switch to wholemeal products, for example, look for bread that has wholemeal flour labeled as the first ingredient. Try brown or wild rice, wholemeal pasta, bulgur, etc .;
- Cepot confectionery add 50% wholemeal flour to white flour or use only wholemeal flour. When baking muffins, cakes or cookies, add chopped bran or uncooked oatmeal;
- Beans, peas and lentils are great sources of fiber. Add canned beans to soup or green salad. Or make a načo with black beans, fresh vegetables, whole grain tortillas and salsa;
- Eat more fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are rich in fiber as well as vitamins and minerals;
- Use fresh fruit, unprocessed vegetables, low-fat popcorn, etc. for snacks. A handful of nuts or dried fruits are also a healthy snack with a high fiber content, but keep in mind that nuts and dried fruits are also high in calories.
The best sources of fiber
The optimum fiber content is 6 grams or more for cereals and muesli, 3 grams or more for bread and bakery products and 4 grams or more for pasta. Whole grain products should contain at least 1 gram of fiber per 10 grams of carbohydrate.
Remember that product names can be misleading - "Multi-grain" or "12-grain" does not mean that they are whole grains.
Fiber content in the most common foods
Total fiber content
Apple with peel
Green peas, cooked
1 cup, chopped
Turnip leaves, cooked
Brussels sprouts, cooked
Potatoes, with peel, fried
Sweet potatoes, boiled (without skin)
Sweet corn, boiled
1 cup, chopped
Spaghetti, whole grain, cooked
Barley, pearl barley, cooked
Oatmeal, quick to cook, boiled
Brown rice, cooked
Bread, whole grains
Legumes, nuts and seeds
Broken peas, cooked
Black beans, boiled
USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Legacy Release.
Rounded to the nearest 0,5 g (28.3495 g = 1 ounce).
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