Fiber is one of those non-nutrient substances that many people don’t know much about. It is also under consumed by many people.
So, what is fiber, why do we need it, and how much do we need to consume daily for optimal health?
What is Fiber
Fiber is a non-digestible carbohydrates and lignin that are found in vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
Fiber is found naturally in foods and are also artificially created.
Why We Need Fiber
There are different types of fibers and each plays a different role in our bodies. Fibers that form a gel-like substance slows glucose absorption, improves insulin production, and reduces LDL cholesterol.
Fermentable fibers are used by healthy gut bacteria to reduce chronic inflammation that causes diabetes and heart disease.
Insoluble fibers, roughage fibers, increases the speed at which food and waste passes through the intestines, improving colon health.
Fiber increases satiety by adding bulk/volume to foods and improving weight management.
How Much Fiber Do We Need
The dietary reference intake recommends 14g/1,000kcal. A rough estimation is 25g/day for women and 38g/day for men. For children, based on age and gender, the range is 19-38g/day. This is a basic recommendation to prevent heart disease. It may be beneficial to consume more that the basic recommendation.
It is important to eat a variety of fibrous carbohydrates to ensure we obtain benefits from the different types of fiber.
Many processed foods such as cereals and bars provide a lot of fiber, it is important to also obtain fiber from non-processed foods. Fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds not only provide fiber, but also provides other non-nutrients substances such as vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals.
You can never go wrong by eating a variety of foods.