(As seen in YourWestValley.com and the Daily News-Sun.)
In comedienne Anita Renfroe’s musical ode to fiber, aptly named “Fiber,” she recites a long list of ills associated with aging and declares that fiber is the cure. “You just need fiber, it’s what you need. When you are full of fiber my friend, you are full indeed.”
I also like to sing the praises of fiber, but it is so much more than a “filler upper.”
Let’s start with some basic fiber facts.
There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber is like a sponge that slows digestion and creates a feeling of fullness. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to the diet, helps cleanse the colon and eases the passage of food and waste through the gut.
Fiber is found only in plant-based foods and is a type of carbohydrate that is indigestible in the human gastrointestinal tract.
Adequate fiber in one’s diet has been shown to help maintain a healthy weight, regulate blood sugars and reduce the risk for certain cancers. It also may help treat or prevent constipation, hemorrhoids and diverticulitis. Soluble fiber also helps lower blood cholesterol levels.
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Where’s the fiber?
The best source of fiber is food. Fiber-rich foods include:
- Soluble fiber: oatmeal, oat, cereal, lentils, apples, oranges, pears, oat bran, strawberries, nuts, flaxseeds, beans, dried peas, blueberries, cucumbers, celery and carrots.
- Insoluble fiber: whole wheat, whole grains, wheat bran, corn bran, seeds, nuts, barley, couscous, brown rice, bulgar, zucchini, celery, broccoli, cabbage, onions, tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, green beans, dark leafy vegetables, raisins, grapes and fruit.
How much fiber?
The recommended intake of fiber for men is 30 to 38 grams per day and 21 to 25 grams per day for women. Here are a few examples of serving sizes and the total grams of fiber in each.
1 cup of black beans = 15 grams
1 cup of raspberries = 8 grams
1 cup of cooked oatmeal = 4 grams
1 cup of cooked broccoli = 5 grams
1 slice of whole wheat bread = 3 gram
Be aware that increasing fiber intake quickly can cause or worsen digestive problems. It’s much wiser to add fiber to your diet gradually over two to three weeks. Drinking plenty of water (eight glasses a day) can smooth the transition. Although food is the best way to get fiber, you may want to talk to your doctor about whether you could benefit from fiber supplements.
Contrary to what Anita Renfroe says, fiber is not a cure-all but it is a fabulous friend.
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This information is provided by health professionals from the Sun Health Center for Health & Wellbeing in Surprise, Ariz. However, it should not be a substitute for medical advice from your physician. If you have a question you’d like to submit for consideration, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.