Fiber, Not Just for Pooping

fibre-picFor those of us with weight issues fiber is amazingly important.  We all know that fiber will keep your guts moving; but did you that fiber also helps regulate insulin and fat absorption.  There are 2 types of fiber, soluble and insoluble.  It is not absorbed by the body and therefore acts to collect intestinal debris on its way through your body.

Soluble fiber is the stuff that goes all slimy when mixed with water (I know slimy sounds gross but I can’t come up with a better descriptor).  Legumes, nuts, psyllium husk, flax seed and oats, as well a number of fruits and vegetables fit into the soluble fiber category.  It helps by moving slowly through the intestinal track to remove build-ups and will absorb fatty acids so they can’t enter your blood stream.   Soluble fiber is much gentler on the system than insoluble fiber and is therefore recommended for people with issues such as IBS, diverticulitis, and any inflammatory bowel diseases.

Insoluble fiber is commonly known as “roughage”  or the “intestinal broom”.  Basically it’s a harder fiber that will scrape build-up off the intestinal walls.  Anything with a husk such as bran, barley, brown rice and cous-cous are high in insoluble fiber.  Cellulose, contained in many fruits and vegetables, is basically insoluble fiber and therefore should be eaten regularly.  Apples, berries with small seeds (strawberry, blueberry, cranberry, raspberry, etc.), oranges, carrots, celery and, cucumber and zucchini with the peel, are excellent sources.

If you are able it is important to get both of these types of fiber into your diet.  The best sources will always come from whole foods.  In other words make food that contains high fiber amounts rather than taking a supplement.  Supplements are just that; they are meant to give a boost to your regular diet as opposed to being your only source.  Up to the age of 50 we should be getting between 25g and 38g of fibre a day.  After 50 it drops to between 21g and 30g.  Most importantly remember to drink LOTS of water when raising your fiber intake as fiber absorbs water and it could make the “passage” more difficult with too little.

According to John Hopkins “The researchers note that many fruits and vegetables that are high in carbohydrates are also high in fiber. The fiber slows digestion and helps to prevent a rapid rise in blood sugar. This protective effect may explain the benefits of a high fiber diet, according to this report.  These results support the current belief that increasing the intake of fiber-rich carbohydrates can help to prevent insulin resistance.”


A fiber short-list.

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