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Why Is It Good to Have Fiber in Your Diet?

Updated on September 14, 2014

What Does Fiber Do For Your Health?

Plant components that are easily digestible are a complex type of carbohydrate generally known as fiber. Our bodies require roughage to efficiently digest food and remove waste materials from the colon after it makes its way via our stomach and intestines. You can get fiber from vegetables, fruit, grain, and legumes.

Fiber acts like a scrub that cleanse the walls of your intestines. It also keep or group certain unwanted materials and flush them out from your digestive system.

  1. For good bowel movement - Fiber increases the mass and size of your stool and softens it. A heavy stool is much easier to move, lowering the chance for bowel obstruction. If you experience loose, watery stools, fiber can also help to solidify the stool since it absorbs water and solidify the stool.
  2. Improves intestinal health - A high-fiber diet can reduced the chances of hemorrhoids and tiny pouches in your intestinal tract. Certain fiber undergo process in the colon which researchers are trying look in at how this may play a role in protecting the colon against diseases.
  3. Help reduce cholesterol levels - Soluble fiber in nuts, oats, flax seed and legumes helps decrease total cholesterol levels by bringing down low-density lipoprotein (the bad cholesterol). Medical studies confirmed that fiber have heart-healthy pluses, in particular bringing down blood pressure and inflammation.
  4. Help regulates sugar levels -. People suffering from diabetes can benefit from eating fiber especially soluble fiber for it normalize the absorption of sugar and improve blood sugar levels. A regular diet with a good amount of insoluble fiber can also lower the chances of developing type 2 diabetes.
  5. High fiber diet helps lower calories - High-fiber foods usually demand more chewing time, giving your body enough time to feel like you are not really hungry, so you''ll not likely to eat way too much. Likewise, a high-fiber diet makes a meal look bigger, so you continue to be full for several hours. High-fiber foods are usually not energy loaded, which suggests they provide lower calories for the same amount of food.

Types of Fiber

Soluble fiber - This type of fiber dissolves in water to form gelatinous material which helps lower cholesterol and sugar levels. Soluble fiber can be found in almonds, legumes, flax seeds, rye, beans, ripe banana, apples, barley, psyllium, broccoli, carrots, sweet potatoes and onions.

Insoluble fiber - This type of fiber supports the flow of materials by way of your digestive tract and improves stool bulk, helping those who have a problem with constipation or abnormal bowel movements. Whole grain foods, wheat and bran, grains, legumes and vegetables, such as cauliflower, green beans, zucchini and potatoes, fruits like avocado, grapes and tomatoes are great sources of insoluble fiber.

Nearly all food derived from plants, including grains and beans, provide soluble and insoluble fiber. Though, the amount of each type varies in several plant foods. To get the best health benefit, consume a number of high-fiber foods daily.

Daily Fiber Requirements For Different Age Groups

The following are general fiber requirements for individual age groups and genders. These requirements are determined by the average daily calorie intake for people in these age and gender groups. People who have low or high calorie intake than this average should balance their fiber intake properly.

Children's Recommended Fiber Intake

Age (years)
Average daily calories
Fiber intake (grams)
1-3
1,404
19
4-8
1,789
25
http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/fiber-table/

Boys and Men Recommended Fiber Intake

Age (years)
Average daily calories
Fiber intake (grams)
9-13
2,265
31
14-18
2,840
38
19-30
2,818
38
31-50
2,554
38
51-70
2,162
30
70+
1,821
30
http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/fiber-table/

Girls and Women Recommended Fiber Intake

Age (years)
Average daily calories
Fiber intake (grams)
9-13
1,910
26
14-18
1,901
26
19-30
1,791
25
31-50
1,694
25
51-70
1,536
21
70+
1,381
21
http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/fiber-table/

Group of Foods with High Fiber Content

Fiber is available only in plant based foods. The good sources are less-processed whole foods. Foods grouped as high-fiber should have 5 grams of fiber or higher per serving, and best sources of fiber should need 2 .5 to 5 grams. Best sources of fiber are whole-wheat and whole-grain breads and cereals, oatmeal, fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, grains, and beans.

Fiber Content of Foods: Legumes and Beans

Food
Portion
Fiber Content
Split peas, cooked
1 cup
16.2
Lentils, cooked
1 cup
15.5
Pinto beans, cooked
1 cup
15.5
Black beans, cooked
1 cup
15.2
Lima Beans, cooked
1 cup
13.3
Chickpeas, cooked
1 cup
12.5
Baked beans, canned
1 cup
10.3
Almonds
23 pieces
3.3
Peanuts
27 pieces
2.3

Fiber Content of Foods: Grains

Food
Portion
Fiber Content
Whole wheat flour
1 cup
14.6
Bran flakes
1 cup
8.4
Bulgur cooked
1 cup
8.3
Spaghetti,whole-wheat, cooked
1 cup
6.4
Whole wheat bagel
2 oz
6.2
Raisin Bran cereal
3/4 cup
5.5
Oat bran muffin
medium
5.3
Whole wheat English muffin
1 piece
4.5
Oatmeal
1 cup
4.2
Oat bran, raw
1/4 cup
3.5

Fiber Content of Foods: Vegetables

Food
Portion
Fiber Content
Artichoke, cooked
medium
10.2
Peas
1 cup
8..8
Mixed vegetables, cooked
1 cup
8.1
Sweetpotato, boiled
medium
7.9
Soybeans,green cooked
1 cup
7.7
Brussels sprouts cooked
1 cup
6.5
Winter squash cooked
1 cup
5.9
Broccoli cooked
1 cup
5.7
Parsnips cooked
1 cup
5.6
Collards cooked
1 cup
5.3
Turnip greens cooked
1 cup
5.1
Potato, baked with skin
medium
4.5
Pumpkin, canned
1/2 cup
3.7
Spinach, frozen, cooked
1/2 cup
3.5
Okra frozen, cooked
1/2 cup
2.7

Fiber Content of Foods: Fruits

Food
Portion
Fiber Content
Raspberries
1 cup
8.1
Blackberries
1 cup
7.7
Stewed prunes
1 cup
7.7
Pear (with skin)
medium
5.6
Figs, dried
1/4 cup
3.8
Dates
1/4 cup
3.7
Blueberries
1 cup
3.6
Apple with skin
medium
3.4
Strawberries
1 cup
3.4
Orange
medium
3.2
Banana
medium
3.1
Apricots
10 halves
2.7
Raisins
1/4 cup
1.6

Easy Ways to Add Fiber to Your Daily Diet

Prepare fiber-rich breakfast - For morning meal make a high-fiber cereal, 5 grams of fiber per serving will be great. Choose cereals with whole grain, bran or fiber in the label. Or put a couple of tablespoons of natural wheat bran to your preferred cereal.

Eat whole grains - Eat no less than half of all grains as whole grains. Buy breads that is made from whole wheat flour or other whole grain as the top ingredient on the label. Find a product with a minimum of 2 grams of fiber per serving. Try to consume brown rice, barley, and whole wheat pasta.

Bulk up your breads - Try to use whole grain flour when baking. Whole grain flour is bulkier compared to white flour. If you are using yeast when baking, try to add a little more yeast or allow the dough rise long. When it comes to baking powder, increase it by 1 teaspoon for every 3 cups of whole grain flour. Add crushed bran cereal, pure wheat bran or uncooked oatmeal to muffins, cakes and pastries.

Mix vegetables to your soups and sauces - Include newly cut, fresh or frozen vegetables to your favorite soups and sauces. Put chopped fresh broccoli in your spaghetti sauce or put crisp baby carrots into stews.

Don't forget the legumes - Legumes, peas and beans are great sources of fiber. Include red beans to your favorite soup or a green salad. Cook nachos with refried black beans, add lots of fresh vegetables, multigrain tortilla chips and salsa.

Consume fruit at each meal - Prune juice, plums, ripe bananas, oranges, pears and berries are excellent sources of fiber.

Make your snacks fiber-rich - Fresh fruits, uncooked vegetables, low-fat popcorn and whole-grain biscuits are all good choices. Try to eat nuts or dried fruits on occasion, it's nutritious and high in fiber, however remember that nuts and dried fruits are high-in calories.

High-fiber foods are excellent for your overall health. But try not to increase your intake at a fast rate for it can cause intestinal gas, bloating and cramps. Boost fiber in your daily diet carefully in a period of 2 to 3 weeks. This lets the natural bacteria in your digestive tract to adapt to the change.

Always drink plenty of water. Fiber will work great when it absorbs water, causing your stool to be plushy and weighty.

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