When it comes to fiber, you are likely to hear conflicting information. On one side, you’ll see nutritionists talking about the importance of fiber. At the same time you can hear other nutritionists dissing Fiber as something that can rob zinc and other minerals from your body. Where is the balanced view and what should you be doing? Is Dietary Fiber Important For Your Body? How much do you need every day?
Fiber is found in plant-based foods and helps your body in a number of ways. Fiber absorbs water and makes stool softer and bulkier, which helps speed up digestion of food through the digestive system. Fiber and fluids go hand in hand and this is where the problem and debate about fiber begins.
With so many symptoms and ailments rooted in digestion and intestinal health, optimal detox is key. Becoming constipated affects several systems and how they function. Supporting frequent elimination with fiber and fluids can be very beneficial for overall health.
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What do we have to consider when it comes to fiber?
1. The amount of fiber each person needs can vary depending on the digestive system health, symptoms, and whether the person has an active or sedentary lifestyle. Fiber should be the place to improve excretion rather than taking any form of laxative, no matter how safe they are described by anyone. You can get along well on 20-50 grams of fiber per day, depending on your individual needs.
2. There are different types of fibers that can be helpful in supporting different people with different needs. Insoluble fiber does not hold water. It speeds up digestion when enough water is taken in to move it through the gastrointestinal tract. When you experience digestive symptoms such as pain or discomfort, insoluble fiber can irritate the lining. Unless you’re having problems like IBS, this slight irritation to your bowels can help increase the growth of beneficial bacteria.
Fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, nuts, seeds, barley, rye, and oats can all be wonderful sources of insoluble fiber.
3. Soluble fiber contains water that can be gentler on digestion if you are struggling with intestinal sensitivity. It can dissolve in water or it can hold water and love through your gastrointestinal tract. It can also help calm the bowel down when it’s inflamed. While there is controversy over the use of psyllium, with concerns that it deprives your body of zinc, it only does so if you consume excessively. In general, when used therapeutically, in small doses it can be calm and gentle on digestion.
You can get soluble fiber from oats, okra, lentils, vegetables, orange peel, and psyllium peel. Soaked plums are also great as soluble fiber as they turn into a gel and soften stool. This can be helpful when you are not having problems with insulin or blood sugar.
4. Pectin is also a type of fiber found in apples, citrus fruits, legumes, and nuts. Braising apples helps release the pectin and is a great colon healing and soothing food. One possibility is to stew apples without sugar, to cool them and to consume them chilled as a gentle form of fiber.
5. Beta-glucans are a form of fiber found in oats, rye, and barley. Beta-glucans turn into a gel when cooked and soak up water to shorten transit time. If you are gluten sensitive, make sure you find a certified gluten-free oatmeal. Beta-glucans help lower LDL levels and postprandial blood sugar. Other fiber is inulin, which is found in chicory. You can use chicory powder as a coffee substitute and help your body with a form of fiber that feeds beneficial bacteria.
6. Resistant starch is a form of fiber that is not easily digested. Foods containing resistant starch migrate through your body and are inaccessible to enzyme attack. Therefore, they enter the colon undigested and feed the bacteria in the colon. Resistant starch occurs when foods containing starch are cooked and cooled. These include green plantains, oats, rice, and potatoes. Only when they have cooled down do they withstand the impact on your blood sugar.
How can you include fiber in your daily diet?
1. The first way is to increase your fiber by simply increasing the number of cups of fruits and vegetables you eat in a day. If you eat two to three cups a day, just increase that to four or five. Increasing fiber from fruits and vegetables is a great way to increase fiber and antioxidants. Always make sure to drink plenty of decaffeinated fluids.
2. Soak a teaspoon of psyllium husk powder in hot water. Let it steep and soak for two hours. Soaking helps increase digestibility so it doesn’t rob your body of minerals. You can do the same with flaxseed powder that contains lignans. Always remember that fiber is very absorbent. Not drinking enough water will result in more constipation than you already are.
3. Raisins and plums are the oldest known sources of fiber increase. If you have no problems with your blood sugar, soak two prunes or 7-8 black raisins. Raisins were my age-old remedies, even for constipation in babies! Soak them in hot water and then consume them with the water.
Remember, fiber and fluids go hand in hand. (Image credit: Pexels)
4. Consider consuming more whole grains. Brown rice can be a good source of fiber in combination with modest lentils and vegetables. Fiber doesn’t have to be in the form of smoothies or drinks. It can just be the traditional Indian food with all the components on your plate.
When it comes to fiber, always remember that fiber and fluids go hand in hand. If you increase any form of fiber, increase your fluid intake immediately. Always start with gentler fiber and then expand your variety as your digestive system gets used to it. Don’t overdo the fiber to the point where it depletes zinc and important minerals.