Fiber is a non-digestible carbohydrate found in foods that makes gut health run smoothly which leads to a healthier lifestyle. It helps keep your digestive system healthy and prevents gut-related issues from occurring. Fiber may come from fruits and vegetables or it may be added to the food you’re buying from grocery stores. Too much or too little fiber intake may harm your health.
There are two kinds of fiber. Both are important for health, digestion, and preventing diseases.
Soluble fiber can be dissolved with water and turns to gel. This slows digestion.
Insoluble fiber adds bulk to the stool and appears to help food pass more quickly through the stomach and intestines.
How Much Fiber Is Considered Enough?
Various studies have different recommendations on how much fiber should you eat per day. According to the American Dietetic Association, 20 to 35 grams of calories are considered enough. For young women, 25 grams of fiber a day is considered enough and for young men, 38 grams of fiber per day will do.
What Happens If I Don’t Have Enough Fiber?
An adequate amount of fiber is important for overall health. This is the reason why low fiber intake may lead to various health complications. Health complications experienced in the digestive system are strongly associated with low fiber intake.
An article published in Stanford Medicine website (stanmed.stanford.edu), titled “Gut Bust: Intestinal Microbes in Peril ” asserts that lack of fiber may lead to a condition called dysbiosis. Dysbiosis is the result of the decrease of microbiomes in the human intestine that helps to boost the metabolic function of cells and provide more nutrients. Eventually, dysbiosis can lead to further complications such as irritable bowel syndrome, celiac disease, inflammation, and metabolic alterations.
Not having enough fiber can make you prone to overeating. Fiber helps you to control how much you eat. If you don’t have enough fiber, you’ll feel the need to eat frequently and consume large amounts of foods. The more calories you take in, the higher the likelihood that you’ll become overweight or obese.
Health complications associated with low fiber intake are as follows:
• cause blood sugar spikes
• colon cancer
• chronic health issues
• results in lower levels of good cholesterol
According to the publication of the University of Virginia (https://med.virginia.edu), foods with low fiber are as follows.
• baked foods that use enriched flour as an ingredient
• refined ready to eat cereals
• canned or cooked fruits such as cocktail, avocado, and canned applesauce
• peeled apricots, peaches, nectarines
• meats, poultry, and fish
• tofu, eggs, and sunflower seeds
• smooth peanut butter (not more than 2 tbsp.per serving
• margarine, butter, vegetable oils, mayonnaise, cream, gravies, and olives
• chocolate cake, puddings, cakes and pretzels
The Benefits of Consuming Fiber
Various research suggests that enough fiber brings many positive health benefits.
Adequate intake of fiber may help to reduce the prevalence of coronary heart disease (CHD). American Heart Association estimates that more than 80 million people are suffering from CHD.CHD is the leading cause of death in the U.S in 2005. A study published in the American Journal of Scientific Nutrition (2005) states that high-level consumption of fiber may lower CHD risk factors such as hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and dyslipidemia.
Fiber also helps to prevent obesity. A study centered around women in their middle ages in 2009 tells that high fiber intake may have a direct correlation with weight loss. Recipients lost 4.4 lbs. by increasing their fiber intake in a span of 20 months, researchers say.
Research also shows that fiber is related to colon health. Fiber helps to increase the production of butyrate which is the primary energy source of colon cells. Aside from these, the improvement of bowel function and decreased occurrence of hemorrhoids and constipation may be attributed to fiber.
Fiber may also help to maintain and mitigate the effects of diabetes. Increasing fiber intake by eating whole grains helps to reduce blood sugar by slowing down the rate of nutrient absorption. In their study published in the Journal of Nutrition (2008), researchers Martin Weickert and Andres F.H. Pfeiffer found out that fiber coming from cereal has significant effects on blood glucose disposal which results in the improvement of a person’s sensitivity to insulin.
The health benefits mentioned here are more than enough reasons why you should try to increase your fiber intake.
How To Add More Fiber To Your Diet
There are many simple ways for you to increase the amount of fiber you’re eating right now. To start, avoid junk foods, sweets, and over-processed foods. Replace these with fibrous fruits such as oranges, bananas, and berries. These work great for post-dinner sweets. Instead of reaching for cakes, ice cream and pies, switch to fruits that contain natural sugar, that can satisfy that sweet tooth.
Eating whole grains for breakfast also increases your fiber intake. Sugary-cereals, when replaced with corn flakes or bran flakes will boost your fiber intake by 6 grams. If you can’t give up on cereals, add some diced up bananas, or berries. These natural foods will add fiber and make breakfast more palatable.
Cooking up meals revolving around brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, and barely will help to increase your fiber intake. When you can, swap out your conventional pasta, white rice, and enriched flour for the healthier versions filled with fiber.
You can also increase fiber intake by being smart about what you snack on. When reaching for a snack, the best snacks include things like apples, dried fruits, and whole-grain crackers. Better yet, you may want to initiate the habit of eating fresh fruits as goodies.
Eating salads work well for increasing your fiber intake. All you have to do is to add fiber-rich foods to salads. Foods high in fiber that you may incorporate with your salad are nuts, kidney beans, peas, and black beans. These not only increase your salad’s fiber content but also give it texture and flavor.
Adding fiber-rich foods to your daily food intake will not only make you a healthier person, but it’s a great way to fight obesity. When people think of fiber, they tend to think of bland foods, but natural fruits and vegetables are a great way to add flavor to your meals. Cookbooks and recipes that show you how to cook with fiber are great for those needing tips and ideas on how to incorporate these kinds of foods.
List of Fiber-Rich Foods
It is time that you know which foods are high in fiber. The foods that are listed here are sourced from the publication of helpguide.org which provides how much fiber each food in this list has.
For Cereals: any cereal with high amounts of fiber will work. Here are some examples.
• Fiber one (14 grams of fiber per 1/2 cup)
• All bran (10 grams in 1 cup)
• Bran flakes (7 grams in 1 cup)
• Shredded wheat ( 6 grams in 1 cup)
• Cooked oatmeal (2 grams in 1 cup)
• Cooked spinach (4 grams in 1 cup)
• Broccoli (3 grams in 1/2 cup)
• Carrots (2 grams of fiber per medium slice)
• Brussel sprouts (2 grams in 1/2 cup)
• Green beans (2 grams in 1/2 cup)
For Baked Goods
• Whole Wheat Bread (3 grams per slice)
• Bran muffin (2 grams in 1 slice)
• Rye bread (2 grams in 1 slice)
• Rice cakes (1 gram in 2 slices)
For Cooked Legumes
• Lentils (8 grams in 1/2 cup)
• Kidney beans (6 grams in 1/2 cup)
• Lima Beans (6 grams in 1/2 cup)
• Canned baked beans (5 grams in 1/2 cup)
• Green peas (4 grams in 1/2 cup)
For Cooked Grains
• Barley (9 grams in 1 cup)
• Dry wheat bran (6 grams in 1/4 cup)
• Whole wheat pasta (8 grams in 1 cup)
• Brown rice (4 grams in 1 cup)
• Bulger ( 4 grams in 1/2 cup)
• Unpeeled medium-sized pear (6 grams of fiber)
• Unpeeled medium-sized apple ( grams of fiber)
• Fresh strawberries (1 cup has for grams of fiber)
• Medium-sized banana (3 grams of fiber)
• Medium-sized orange (3 grams of fiber)
For Dried Fruits
• Prune (6 pieces equals to 12 grams of fiber)
• Mangos (5 halves equals to 3 grams of fiber)
• Raisins (2 grams of fiber per 1/4 cup)
• Dates (2 grams of fiber per 3 pieces)
• Plums (2 grams per 3 pieces)
How Much is Too Much Fiber
Too much of everything is not good. This is especially true when talking about fiber. Experts say that it’s not good for you to eat more than 70 grams of fiber every day because it may lead to various complications. Commonly, excessive fiber intake makes it hard for your body to absorb minerals such as magnesium, zinc, calcium, iron, etc. Intestinal blockages may also be a result of too much fiber intake.
The following symptoms can manifest if you’re eating too much fiber:
• bloating, cramps in the abdomen, constipation, and diarrhea
• low levels of appetite and satiety
• excessive weight loss and lack of muscle or weight gain
Conclusion of Foods High in Fiber
To conclude eating a minimum or an excessive amount of fiber will harm your body. This is the reason why you should stick to eat 25 or 30 grams of fiber every day as experts advise. Eating the exact amount of fiber that your body needs will help you combat gastrointestinal problems, reduce risks of coronary heart disease, control blood sugar level and prevent obesity.
If you’re planning to increase your fiber intake be sure to drink lots of liquids. Do not try to eat a lot of fibrous foods in one sitting. Doing this can be harmful to your health. Instead, increase the number of fibrous foods that you’re eating gradually to avoid digestive problems such as bloating, gas, and many others.
Live healthier by eating the right amount of fiber!
What is your favorite fiber source? Leave a comment below.