By Florencia Tagliavini, Nutritionist
Nuts, seeds, legumes and whole grains as well as fruits & vegetables are a great source of fiber. For this reason alone we should consume them regularly. The USDA recommends that you get at least 25 grams of fiber per day but most people get less than 10 grams a day. Studies show that even more fiber than the USDA recommendation would be beneficial to health.
What is Fiber?
Fiber comes from plants; they are a type of carbohydrate that your body can't digest so it simply passes through your digestive tract. It does not contribute any calories or energy to your body but fiber definitely does something in your body and something very important.
Why Eat Fiber?
- Fiber helps to achieve & maintain a healthy weight. High fiber foods tend to be more filling than low fiber foods. Fiber slows down the digestive process, this effect will increase satiety and help you go longer without feeling hungry again. It also helps regulate blood sugar levels - especially helpful for diabetics.
- Fiber maintains bowel health. One of the primary reasons people suffer from irregularity (diarrhea or chronic constipation) is because they are not getting enough fiber daily. A high fiber diet may also lower the risk of developing hemorrhoids and certain diseases of the colon.
- Fiber prevents disease. Fiber in the digestive tract acts as a janitorial service. It sweeps up cellular debris and mops up cholesterol, environmental toxins, and surplus hormones. Since fiber passes through your digestive track collecting all these unwanted components, it essentially takes out the trash. This is why it reduces your risk of heart disease, diabetes and many types of cancers.
- Fiber is your gut bacteria's best friend. Our microbiome is a complex ecosystem including our intestinal flora, made up of billions of living organisms. We have 10 times the amount of bacteria than we do cells and they all have very specific and important functions in our body, especially in our immune, digestive and metabolic systems. Our diet can cause an imbalance between good and bad bacteria or can help good bacteria flourish, and in turn, good health flourish. Good bacteria feeds and thrives off of fiber!
- Fiber & healthy nutrients go hand in hand. Foods that are rich in fiber tend to also be full of antioxidants, phytonutrients, lignans, phenols, and other good stuff so your entire diet gets a nutritional upgrade when you eat more fiber.