What is Fiber and Why Do We Need It?

Dietary fiber (or roughage) is a plant-based nutrient and carbohydrate that the human body is unable to digest.

This deceiving characteristic leads a lot of people to wrongly fear the nutrient; when in fact, fiber is an element essential for the maintainence of a healthy body!

Though most carbs are broken down into sugar molecules, fiber is one that cannot be. It instead passes through the body undigested1 and relatively intact.

But, this undigested nutrient does a lot for the body as it makes its way through.

fiber

There are 2 types of dietary fiber & each has their own benefits!

This first type dissolves in water. It changes as it goes through the digestive tract, becoming gelatinous as it absorbs an increasing amount of water2.

Soluble fiber aids in lowering cholesterol and regulating sugar intake.

This variety of fiber doesn’t dissolve in water or take another form. This makes it great at pushing stuck matter through the digestive track.

Insoluble dietary fiber promotes regular waste excretion and prevents constipation.

It also speeds up the process of eliminating toxic waste from the colon. In addition, by keeping an optimal pH level in the intestines, insoluble fiber helps prevent colon cancer2.

The Institute of Medicine recommends that men ages 50 and under should have an intake of 38 grams per day. Men 51+ should consume 30 grams.

The RDA for women ages 50 and under is 25 grams. Older women should have only 21 grams3.

The chart below from What We Eat in America, NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey) 2009-20104 displays the U.S. population’s fiber intake. According to the institute, most Americans do not consume enough.

fiber_intake
1https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/carbohydrates/fiber/
2http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/146935.php
3http://www.livescience.com/51998-dietary-fiber.html
4https://www.ars.usda.gov/ARSUserFiles/80400530/pdf/DBrief/12_fiber_intake_0910.pdf
 

Want to easily incorporate fiber-rich foods into your diet?


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Click here to read about 12 Amazing Sources of Fiber!

 
 
 
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Click here for the recipe for these awesome Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cranberry Cookies that are packed with fiber!



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