Most people don’t check the nutrition facts on food labels. They’re not the easiest thing to read and the numbers can get confusing. However, once you know the basic facts they become infinitely valuable. We can find important information about the foods we’re eating and how they affect our health. One of the biggest contributors to optimal health is fiber. Fiber plays a huge part in long-term positive effects including colon health, prostate health, blood pressure regulation, heart disease, glucose, and weight control; just to name a few. There are two types of fiber that we should concentrate on: soluble and insoluble fiber.
Soluble Fiber: This type creates a gelatin like substance that absorbs water. If you’ve ever taken a high fiber powder mixed in water, you’ve probably seen this. Psyllium husk is high in soluble fiber, which easily absorbs water in the stomach. This is why most people will use this as a laxative since it will increase the digestion in the digestive abilities in the body. Foods high in soluble fiber include: lentils, beans, oats, barley, bran, nuts, some vegetables and fruits. Soluble fiber is the primary type of fiber that helps in weight loss.
Insoluble Fiber: This fiber is mostly roughage and aids in digestion. Lettuce is high in insoluble fiber, so is bran whole grains, fruits, veggies, and brown rice. When you eat oat bran it helps regulate your digestive system and keeps things moving. That’s why your teacher told you to eat your fiber. They simply meant, have a bowl of insoluble fiber!
The biggest difference in soluble and insoluble is that soluble absorbs nutrients more than insoluble. If losing weight, remember soluble is the best solution since it will slow down the digestion of carbs.
One of the best parts of having a high fiber diet is it provides a multitude of benefits. The most important of these is disease prevention. It’s been scientifically proven that adequate amounts of fiber can help prevent heart disease, obesity, and high blood pressure. Soluble fiber is excellent at helping prevent diabetes since higher fiber diets absorb carbs better, which do not spike insulin levels. It also helps by regulating blood pressure, which high blood pressure is known to cause brain disorders and strokes.
According to several medical studies, fiber is known to aid in preventing heart disease indirectly by helping to control weight, and by lowering blood cholestrerol levels. Most doctors will recommend you switch your breakfast to oats because it will help in lowering low-density lipoprotein (LDL), AKA the bad cholesterol, and raise high-density lipoprotein (HDL) the Good cholesterol. Think of oatmeal as the leader in process. I usually add a scoop of whey protein for added benefits.
Although fiber is important and there are plenty of benefits, just like everything else, there needs to be moderation taken into account. Too much fiber can cause bloating, stomach cramps, and intestinal pains. The upper limit suggested by the FDA is 25 to 30 grams a day, but can be more or less depending on your height and weight.
Losing weight isn’t easy, but increasing the fiber in your diet might help. The way it works is the molecules in fiber attaches itself to carbs which slows down the digestion of carbs. The carbs are then processed slower, thus they don’t spike your blood sugar and get stored as fat as easily. This mostly comes from soluble fiber AKA soluble. Let’s say you eat a meal with 25 grams of carbohydrates and 5 grams of dietary fiber. We can subtract 5 grams from 20 because 5 won’t be immediately processed since the fiber absorbs the carbs. This is good news for dieters since they can eat more carbs as long as there is an ample amount of fiber with it.
It's best to get your fiber from a variety of sources, but however you choose to get them, try to get the minimum amount per day. Remember, this is for your health and your future. Add in a couple table spoons of flax seed per day if you can't get full fiber. So many choices. Here is a short list of the most common types and their recommended serving amount.