Is Fiber Really That Necessary?
You may have heard that most people only get about half of the daily recommended amount of fiber. Why is this, and why should you care? How important can fiber be if people aren’t getting that much of it? The truth is that fiber is very, very important. Fiber comes in two types, soluble and insoluble. Both are good for the body and provide the same types of benefits.
Benefits of Fiber
Here are just a few of the reasons fiber is so important in our diets:
It helps to make your bowel movements more regular and normal. Fiber helps to increase the size and weight of stool, which makes it easier to pass. This means you won’t be constipated. If you often have diarrhea, fiber can help to make your stool more solid by adding bulk and absorbing some of the water.
Eating a good amount of fiber every day can also decrease your chance of hemorrhoids and of diverticulitis.
The fiber found in some foods—beans, flaxseed, and oats—has been linked to lower cholesterol levels. It helps to decrease the amount of low-density lipoprotein, the bad cholesterol.
Fiber has been connected to a number different heart benefits, including helping to reduce blood pressure.
Soluble fiber can help slow down how quickly the body absorbs sugar, which can help those with diabetes. Eating a diet high in insoluble fiber may also help reduce the chance of type 2 diabetes.
How much fiber do you need in a day?
If you’re a man under age 50, you need about 38 grams. Over 51, you need about 30. For women, it’s 25 grams (under 50) and 21 grams (over 51).
Get More Fiber
If you want to get more fiber in your diet, here are a few easy ways.
Start your day off with a breakfast cereal that’s whole grain and unsweetened. Look for cereals that have a minimum of four grams of fiber in each serving. But watch out for cereals that are high in sugars. You don’t want to make any issue worse by increasing your sugar intake.
Eat some apples—apples are high in pectin, a type of soluble fiber. Pectin also helps to increase that feeling of being full so you won’t eat as much food. Doctors recommend eating two apples each day to get a good amount of pectin.
For a snack, replace empty calories like candy or chocolate with broccoli and baby carrots. You can dip these vegetables in a low-fat ranch dressing if you want. You won’t be as hungry, won’t ingest as many calories, and get about five grams of fiber.
Replace white grains with brown. Brown foods like brown rice, whole wheat pasta, and whole wheat pita include more fiber. Just by switching out some of these foods, you can greatly increase the amount of fiber you get without really changing what you’re eating. In many cases, you won’t even taste the difference.
You may also want to start taking an acai berry supplement. Research has shown that a supplement such as the acai berry may be able to provide you with a number of benefits.
These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to treat, diagnose, or cure any diseases.