Recently. there’s much fuss about having enough fiber in your daily diet. Apparently, most people are not “very” familiar with what is regarded as “fiber”. I was consulting with an elderly client the other day… and so I suggested to him “Sir, you will need to eat more fiber in other to cleanse your metabolic system of toxins in other words you need a detox diet”… and then I clearly observed his face move from “happy to finally get a solution” to “please where am I?”
What is fiber?
According to Harvard School of Public Health, fiber is a type of carbohydrate that the body can’t digest. Though most carbohydrates are broken down into sugar molecules, fiber cannot be broken down into sugar molecules, and instead it passes through the body undigested. Fiber helps regulate the body’s use of sugars, helping to keep hunger and blood sugar in check.
Children and adults need at least 20 to 30 grams of fiber per day for good health, but most Americans get only about 15 grams a day. This is greatly low compared to stipulations according to the WHO, adequate fruit and vegetable intake entails a consumption of at least 400g of fruits and vegetables per day. Great sources are whole fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and beans.
• Fiber is the carbohydrate or starch that our bodies cannot digest.
• Fiber acts as a broom to sweep out the digestive tract.
• Dietary fiber is found only in plant foods.
• Common food sources of fiber are fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
What types of fiber are there?
There are 2 types of fiber. Water soluble and insoluble fiber.
1. Insoluble fiber passes through the gut quickly.
- It can prevent constipation.
- It can help prevent infections of the gut.
- It can also help prevent hemorrhoids, heart disease and may prevent some types of cancer.
- Food sources include fruits with skins, uncooked vegetables, nuts, legumes, bran, brown rice and whole-grain flours
2. Soluble fiber acts like a sponge in the gut.
- The soluble fiber in foods, such as oats, binds with cholesterol and removes it from the blood stream.
- It can help lower blood sugar because it slows how fast foods are digested. So it is important if you have diabetes.
- It may help firm stool and reduce diarrhea.
- Food sources include oats, oat bran, barley, dried beans and peas and certain vegetables and fruits, such as applesauce, strawberries, potatoes, citrus and prunes.
3. How can fiber help me loose weight?
- Fiber helps you feel full longer because it stays in your gut for longer periods of time. This helps prevent overeating because you are not so hungry.
- High fiber diets are lower in calories and fat.
- Fiber makes you chew foods more, so you tend to eat SLOWER.
4. How much fiber should I be eating?
- Dietetic experts recommends eating 20 to 35 grams of fiber per day.
- Most people are only eating about 15 grams of fiber per day.
- If you are not used to eating a high fiber diet, you may have problems with gas in the beginning.
- Start slowly and be sure that you are drinking 6 to 8 cups of water per day.
5. How can I get more fiber in my diet?
- Snack on fresh or dried fruit instead of candy. Choose fruit cobbler, whole-wheat bran or fruit muffins in place of desserts.
- Use bean dips such as black bean and refried beans with whole grain crackers or vegetables instead of sour cream. Include at least 4 servings of lentils or beans each week.
- Add wheat to hot cereals or yogurt. Try adding dried cereal or oatmeal to replace bread crumbs in meatloaf.
- Try air popped popcorn without butter or fat free microwave popcorn instead of potato chips.
- Substitute whole-wheat flour for the total amount of white flour needed in recipes. The rest of the flour can come from white flour.
- Include at least 3 servings of whole grains and cereals each day (whole wheat, oats, brown rice i.e Ofada rice, maize and guinea corn).
- Choose 5 or more servings of fruit or vegetables each day.
View and download the picture below to help you calculate your fiber consumption daily.