WHAT IS FIBER?
“Roughage”, “bulk”, and “bran” are all terms that are used to mean fiber. Fiber is the part of plant foods that cannot be digested by humans. It is found in breads, fruits, cereals, vegetables, and grains. Surprising but true: Animal products such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and dairy products do NOT contain any fiber.
Fiber comes in two basic forms, soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber dissolves in water. Foods high in soluble fiber include fruits, vegetables, oat bran, barley, and some beans. Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water but instead retains water and is used to soften and build up stool, thus preventing or easing constipation. Insoluble fiber can be found in vegetables, whole grains, and wheat bran.
WHY DO YOU NEED FIBER
A regular intake of fiber has many advantages and can help even if you are healthy. Fiber can keep bowels working regularly and help prevent constipation. Research shows that fiber can also reduce the chance of colon cancer. By increasing food bulk, fiber gives your brain more time to realize that your body is no longer hungry and helps prevent overeating. By providing bulk and softening stool, the pressure of hard bowel moments is eliminated. This decreases the risk of irritable bowel syndrome. Soluble fiber is also thought to lower cholesterol and to help control blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.
HOW MUCH FIBER DO YOU NEED?
Most Americans eat less than the recommended amount of fiber daily. The daily recommendation is 20-35 grams per day. Eating too much fiber may cause diarrhea and bloating. Because people vary in their sensitivity to fiber, a good target is to eat the amount that results in normal bowl movements.
WHERE CAN YOU GET FIBER?
Ideally, you should be able to get all the daily fiber you need by eating high fiber foods. Fiber can be increased by eating foods in their natural state, before peeling, juicing, and processing. The more natural and less processed a food is, the more fiber it is likely to contain. Fruits can provide up to five grams of fiber in a single serving. Fruits and vegetables with edible skins are higher in fiber. Breads with whole grain flours and added fiber are also a good source of fiber. Bran muffins are popular but may contain high levels of fat. Legumes and beans can contain up to 12 grams of fiber per cup.
Fiber supplements may be recommended by your physician. These supplements are available in tablet and powder form. They should be used in addition to the 20-35 grams of fiber you get from food. In addition, fiber supplements should be taken with plenty of water.
|Brussel Sprouts||2.3||½ cup|
|Peas (canned)||4.0||½ cup|
|Peas (dried)||7.9||½ cup|
|Beans (kidney, baked)||10.0||½ cup|
|Refried Beans||12.0||1 cup|
|White Bread||0.7||1 slice|
|Apple with Peel||3.5||1 fruit|
|Fiber One||14.0||1 cup|
|100% Bran||13.5||1 cup|
|Raisin Bran||3.5||1 cup|