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Fiber (also known as residue) is one of the most important nutrients in terms of health and weight control, and unfortunately one of the most neglected nutrients in the American diet. The average American eats only 8 to 15 grams of this important nutrient per day.
In many African countries, the average intake of fiber is anywhere from 40 grams to 150 grams per day! Africans who consume high levels of this nutrient do not have the heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity which plague the Western nations. This residue cannot be digested by the small intestine and therefore reaches the large intestine intact.
Fiber falls into two classes, soluble and insoluble. The soluble or viscous kind dissolves in water. It holds water in the gastrointestinal tract (GI tract) and adds to the weight of feces.
Soluble fiber can be digested by bacteria in the large intestine. This type can be found in fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds and almost all whole grains. Its benefits are many: a. it helps to lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels, and also helps to stabilize insulin levels b. prevent cancer c. balance hormone levels d. take away excess estrogen e. reduce the risk of breast cancer f. make vitamins and minerals.
The insoluble kind doesn't dissolve in water and it adds bulk to the feces. It is not changed by the GI tract. This residue is found in wheat bran, rye bran, and vegetables such as broccoli and celery. It keeps the intestines clean and prevents constipation.
Fiber decreases the time food and fecal matter travel through the GI tract. This transit time is 36 hours or less in African countries where fiber intake is very high as compared to 96 hours in America. A diet high in fiber slows the absorption of nutrients. This has the benefit of stabilizing blood glucose levels.
A high fiber diet allows a lot of food to be eaten without a subsequent increase in body fat because the fiber absorbs the calories and eliminates them in the stool.
How can you increase the amount of fiber in your diet? 1) add beans to your meals (black, kidney, red, etc.) 2) increase your intake of vegetables 3) eat more grain (like brown rice or quinoa) 4) eat more fruit (berries, red apples) 5) include nuts (almond, walnut, pecans.)
Increase your fiber slowly. Too much too fast will give you gas and bloating. Try to reach an intake of 50 grams per day.
High Fiber or Excellent Source of Fiber- product contains at least 5 grams of dietary fiber good source of Fiber- product contains 2.5 grams or more of fiberHealthy living > Nutrition > Fiber