What Is Dietary Fiber and Why It Is Essential to Good Health
We’ve all heard it before, eat more fiber! If you’re like most people however, you have no clue what dietary fiber is, or what it does for your body. Dietary fiber is the parts of plant foods that you can’t digest or absorb. Fiber is broken down into two categories: soluble and insoluble.
Soluble fiber dissolves in water to form a gel-like material, that then provides numerous health benefits including lowering blood cholesterol & blood sugar levels. Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water unlike soluble fiber. Insoluble fiber works to improve the health and function of your digestive system. It does this through increasing stool bulk & promotion of material movement through the digestive system, thus reducing risk of constipation!
Not only does dietary fiber provide all of those amazing health benefits, but it is also associated with reduction of inflammation in the body. In SJ Millers study “Dietary Fiber Linked to Decreased Inflammation in Overweight Minority Youth” it was found that those who had the highest fiber consumption had significantly lower plasma inflammation markers. Decreasing inflammation in the body is also associated with a surprising side effect, it improves your mood!
When inflammation is reduced in the body, it increases the concentration of neurotransmitters to reduce symptoms of depression. This is further explained through a high fiber diet changing the pH & permeability of the gut. Gut microbiome composition plays a huge role in mood creation. If you’re eating a diet of high saturated fats, trans fats, or added sugars, your gut microbiota inflames resulting in feeling crappy!
A high fiber diet, full of fresh vegetables, fruits, and whole grains results in normal functioning microbiome and that will produce a great mood! Think about how you feel after eating McDonalds vs when you eat a fresh salad, or drink a fresh juice like those found here. The fresh salad and juice will have you feeling energized and ready to take on the day whereas the McDonalds will have you feeling like “why did I even decide to eat this crap?”
Where Can I Find the Best Fiber?
Now that you’ve read all about the amazing health benefits that dietary fiber provides; you’re probably wondering what are the best sources and how much dietary fiber do you need per day. Read on and you shall find your answer.
When it comes to how much fiber per day, men have a slightly higher requirement than women. Men 50 or younger need to get 38g per day. Men 51+ need 30g per day. Women 50 or younger need 25g per day and women 51+ need to get 21g per day.
Good sources of soluble fiber include oats, peas, beans, apples and citrus fruits. Good sources of insoluble fiber include whole wheats, nuts, beans, and vegetables. For best results, consume both types of fiber at each meal, and combine with adequate water intake.
A high fiber diet is essential to optimal health, but be warned. Too much fiber too quick can increase the amount of gas, bloating, and cramping. This can be avoided by eating your fiber over a prolonged period!