What is dietary fiber?
Dietary fiber is a food nutrient which is extracted from the plant. It is also named as roughage or bulk, depending upon its usage in terms of discussion.
Basically, fiber is a type of carbohydrates but the difference between fiber and other carbohydrates is that it is breakable into smaller units, making it easy for digestion. For this reason, fiber is very helpful to maintain a healthy digestive system.
Quick facts on dietary fiber
- Dietary fiber is a food component.
- It has two types; soluble and insoluble.
- Both men and women need different amounts of dietary fiber as per their age.
- White bread doesn’t count in dietary fiber rich food.
- Dairy products don’t have fiber in them.
- Grains, seeds, and nuts are full of fiber.
- Fiber maintains a healthy gut and heart.
- You can even lose weight by taking a high fiber diet.
Why is dietary fiber important?
The word dietary in dietary fiber suggests that it is friendly for the digestion. It directly links with the relation of food intake and the user. It means it is also responsible for weight gain or loss. It is also linked with related factors such as uric acid, cholesterol etc.
A person that uses dietary fiber in the routine diet has a better digestion than the rest. It reduces the risk of many health issues such as digestive problems, obesity, cholesterol, heart issues etc.
How much dietary fiber do you need?
Men and women require a different dose of daily dietary fiber. For men, this amount should be somewhat 38 grams per day. Men older than 50 need 30 grams of dietary fiber.
Women which age 50 years need 25 grams of dietary fiber per day. The ladies older than that need 21 to 22 grams fiber in their routine diet.
The difference between soluble and insoluble fiber?
Fiber has two sub categories; soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber is pectin, mucilage etc which are water soluble. The insoluble fiber doesn’t dissolve in water and its examples are cellulose, lignin, and hemicelluloses.
Soluble and insoluble fibers both have certain benefits for the user body. For example, soluble fiber helps with blood sugar levels and cholesterol. On the other side, insoluble fiber speeds up the metabolism thus regulate the weight gain process. It also controls digestive problems such as constipation.
Both soluble and insoluble dietary fibers are plant based. It means that usually the food which we account as “fiber rich” has both types of fiber in it. However, their quantity may differ in certain foods and they are not exactly same by an amount in any food.
You can get particular type of fiber more in certain foods such as;
- Soluble fiber: Lentils, beans, blueberries, barley, peas, apples, oatmeal and citrus fruits.
- Insoluble fiber: Whole wheat flour, brown rice, potatoes, tomatoes, nuts, bran bread, cauliflower, carrots etc.
Advantages of adding fiber to daily diet
- It improves digestion
Whenever you read the word “fiber”, always assume that it is related to digestion. Dietary fibers are linked with improving the quality and efficiency of work of digestive system as the whole.
It makes the digestive issues such as bloating, constipation, bowel disorders etc to reduce. It also reduces the risk of hemorrhoids which are also linked with the digestive system. It makes the quality of lifestyle better which is healthy and positive initiative.
- It improves cardiac health
Dietary fiber helps to reduce the cholesterol. Bile acids are one component of the digestive system which is made with cholesterol. When the digestive system is working well, the liver makes sufficient amounts of bile acids by utilizing the cholesterol.
It eventually reduces the bad cholesterol from the body and making the circulatory system working well. It means that fiber is also responsible for your heart health.
- It regulates blood sugar
A sufficient intake of fiber improves the blood glucose/ sugar levels. It reduces the risk of diabetes and related diseases. For this reason, soluble fiber works exceptionally well.
- It helps against allergies
Not many people know this but fiber is helpful to prevent the allergies especially food related allergies. It is linked with the relation of gut bacteria with fiber diet. A common assumption believes that gut bacteria cause food allergies. It means using something which maintains the gut micro flora will reduce this chance. Here is the point where fiber hits the scene.
- It maintains a healthy body weight
Being overweight is a common problem these days. The main reason behind this unwanted weight gain is bad food choices. It is even more affected by the improper lifestyle changes.
Using a high fiber diet improves the digestion. It increases the metabolic rate which makes sure that there is no accumulation of fat cells beneath the skin. In this way, fiber in diet maintains a healthy body weight by reducing the chances of obesity.
- It adds years to life
It is not a direct benefit but dietary fiber makes the people age more. It reduces the risk of mortality by a significant number. Following a healthy lifestyle generally, makes a person live long with a good health.
Examples of some high fiber food
As described earlier, there are certain foods that are rich in fiber. These include fruits, grains, vegetables, and nuts. Some of the foods which highest amounts of dietary fibers are;
- Berries such as raspberries and blueberries
- Psyllium husk
- Beans such as red beans and black beans
- Chick peas
- Flax seeds
- Whole wheat
How to make your diet a high-fiber diet?
A high fiber diet is the one which has a major part of fiber in routine use. For doing this, you need to incorporate fiber slowly in a diet. First, try to remove the unwanted food elements and replace them with alternative fibers.
Some of the basic steps which you can take can buy any from the following list.
- You can replace your regular protein breakfast with a healthier fiber based breakfast. It means you can use oatmeal, bran cereal, bran bread with berries and nuts.
- You can add a fruit in every meal. Certain fruits such as citrus fruits or berries are rich in fiber so using them with a meal is beneficial.
- You can add one portion of lentils, beans, peas or chick peas in any meal. Another option is to make a soup and replace it with a meal.
- It is beneficial to take fiber foods in dinner. You can use a different ingredient for dinner other than what you have eaten in the day. Vegetables can be a good replacement along with bran rice or whole wheat pasta.
What are fiber supplements and who needs it?
Sometimes it is simply too hard for some people to facilitate fiber in their routine diet. It could be a medical condition, tough routine, shortness of time or anything. for such a situation the health industry has formulated fiber supplements.
The research elaborates the efficiency of supplements to be less powerful than fiber rich foods. It does provide fiber but it is far less in the amount which you can easily get from the diet. It is helpful for people which want to strengthen their metabolic rate or digestive issues.
Using fiber supplements is better in certain conditions such as constipation than to use chemical based drugs for it. It suggests that fiber supplements are helpful but they are not a complete replacement of diet.
It is also helpful for the people which cannot get sufficient amount of fiber from the food. This amount of fiber in supplement adds up to what they are already eating. Together it becomes an efficient dose of fiber.
Sometimes the fiber rich food is so expensive that it is not in range of every user. Using the supplements in this condition is a better option than to spend extra on food.
Supplements usage needs certain precautions and not everyone can use it randomly. It may interact with any medicine if you are on a constant medication for some illness. Even the common medicines such as aspirin have a high risk to interact with fiber pills.
It means that taking a doctor’s or your nutritionist’s advice is necessary before using any such combination.
The Final Word
Dietary fiber is beneficial for maintaining a functional digestive system. It ensures that whole system is working well which reduces the risk of metabolic diseases. It also prevents the user to gain weight which is a prime concern these days.
Certain foods are rich in dietary fiber. One can use any product and use it as an alternative to unhealthy food choices. It is not a viable idea to use fiber pills without consulting any doctor. The best way to balance the daily fiber dose is through diet only.