Eating a healthy diet can make you feel good and help fight against chronic diseases and conditions, such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease. A healthy diet can also give your immune system a boost. Eating healthy can be a challenge if you don’t know exactly what that means. In general, it is important to eat a wide variety of foods. Fruits, vegetables, dairy (or non-dairy alternatives), protein and whole grains are all important pieces of a healthy diet. Another part of eating healthy is making sure that you are getting the necessary vitamins, nutrients and minerals. One essential nutrient that might be missing from your diet is fiber.
Why Do I Need Fiber?
There are many benefits of eating a high-fiber diet. Digestive disorders, heart disease and diabetes are a few chronic health conditions that can benefit from eating a healthy, high fiber diet.
Bowel Health – Dietary fiber helps normalize bowel movements and promote bowel health. Dietary fiber helps your body create stools that are easier to pass and avoid constipation. If you have loose stool (diarrhea), high dietary fiber may help solidify it because the fiber absorbs excess water. Fiber can also help avoid the development of hemorrhoids (swollen, inflamed veins in the rectum and anus) and small pockets forming in your bowel tract (diverticular disease).
Heart Disease – Multiple studies have shown that eating a high-fiber diet can lower your risk of developing coronary heart disease. High-fiber diets are also linked to a lower risk for developing metabolic syndrome, which increases the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Factors related to metabolic syndrome include high insulin levels, high blood pressure, excess weight and low levels of good cholesterol.
Type 2 Diabetes – Diets high in dietary fiber and low in foods that spike blood sugar levels (high-glycemic index foods) have been known to decrease the chance of developing type 2 diabetes. Diets low in fiber and high in foods with a high glycemic index double your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Soluble fiber has been known to help your body slow down the spike in blood sugar levels that can be dangerous for people who have diabetes or are at risk of developing it.
What is Fiber? And Where Do I Get It?
Dietary fiber is a plant-based nutrient that cannot be fully digested in the human body. When adding fiber to your diet, think whole-grain foods and vegetables. Although many foods may be naturally good sources of fiber, others may be fortified with fiber and other important minerals and nutrients. This means that fiber and these essential nutrients are added to foods, such as cereal and granola bars. These are also good options when choosing staples for your high-fiber diet.
Soluble vs Insoluble Fibers
There are two types of dietary fiber, soluble and insoluble fibers. You may consider eating more of one type of fiber based on your body’s needs. Both have their own benefits, so you should eat a wide variety of foods to make sure you get enough of each kind of fiber.
|Type of Fiber
||Attributes and Benefits
||Found in These Foods
||· Dissolves in water
· Can help lower blood cholesterol
· Can help lower blood glucose (sugar)
· Citrus fruits
||· Does not dissolve in water
· Helps move food through your digestive system
· Helps with regular bowel movements
· Helps people who have constipation
|· Whole-wheat flour
· Wheat bran
· Brown Rice
· Green beans
Daily Fiber Recommendations and Tips
Though fiber is found in a lot of different foods, eating the right amount can be challenging. Women need to consume 21-25 grams of fiber per day. Men need to consume 30-38 grams of fiber per day. The following are a few tips that may help you to achieve your daily fiber intake goals.
- Look for breakfast cereals with “whole-grain” listed as the first ingredient.
- Eat fruits instead of drinking fruit juice.
- Choose brown rice and whole grains over white bread, white rice and pasta.
- Choose raw food snacks such as vegetables and fruits.
- Choose foods fortified fiber, such as granola bars, but read the ingredients to be sure you are not eating too much sugar in your attempt to get fiber.
Can I Eat Too Much Fiber?
Yes, though the amount of “too much” depends on the person. If you eat 70 grams or more of fiber per day, you may experience uncomfortable side effects. However, some people may start experiencing symptoms of too much fiber once they reach 40 grams. These symptoms may include bloating, gas, constipation, dehydration, diarrhea and being unable to absorb key nutrients from food. Although adding fiber to your diet is important, having too much can have the opposite effect on your body. Pay attention to what you are eating and fiber recommendations based on your gender and you should be able to avoid these effects easily. If you have concerns, talk with your doctor.
- High fiber diets can help protect against disease and constipation.
- Soluble vs insoluble foods have different benefits.
- Fortified foods can provide you with your daily recommended fiber intake.
- Too much fiber can cause constipation and other unpleasant side effects.
By making small changes you can increase your fiber intake, create a healthier diet and reduce your risk for chronic diseases. These small changes allow you to live a happier, healthier life. We know any change is tough, especially diet changes, but we are here to help you. Jai Medical Systems has the support and tools you need to stay healthy. Call our Customer Service Representatives at 1-888-JAI-1999 to learn more about our programs or contact us using our online form.