Eating a high fiber diet has a lot of potential health benefits including decreased risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
A high-fiber diet can also help treat digestive problems such as constipation, diarrhea, and hemorrhoids.
However, most people don't eat the recommended amount of fiber.
What is fiber?
Fiber can be thought of as a substance found in the outer layers of grains or plants which is not digested in the intestines.
Most dietary fiber is not digested or absorbed, so it stys in your intestines where it helps regulate digestion and affects the consistency of your poop.
There are two types of fiber, Soluble Fiber and Insoluble fiber, each of which is thought to have its own benefits.
Soluble fiber dissolves in water and insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water.
Examples of foods with soluble fiber include:
Examples of foods that contain insoluble fiber include:
- Other grains
The traditional fiber, wheat bran, is a type of insoluble fiber.
Dietary fiber is the total amount of soluble and insoluble fiber in food.
Sources of Fiber
Fiber is found exclusively in plant-based foods.
Foods that are high in recommended daily fiber include:
- Black beans
- Split peas
- Dried figs
- Whole-wheat pasta
- Brown rice
- Sunflower seeds
Other sources of fiber
There are also a number of fiber supplements available.
Examples include psyllium, methylcellulose, wheat dextin, and calcium polycarbophil.
The dose of the fiber supplement should be increased slowly to prevent gas and cramping, and the supplement should be taken with plenty of water or other liquids.
Benefits of a high fiber diet
- Makes your stool more solid
- Helps you feel less constipated
- Lowers your risk of coronary heart disease
- Lowers your cholesterol
- Stabilizes blood sugar
- Makes you feel fuller for longer
- Stops you having food cravings
- Decreases your risk of diabetes
- Lowers your risk of colon cancer
How much fiber is recommended?
The average man should have at least 38 grams of fiber a day and the average woman should have 25 grams of fiber a day.
Side effects of fiber
Adding fiber to your diet can have some side effects like bloating or gas.
This can sometimes be minimized by starting with a small amount and slowly increasing until your poop becomes softer and and you go more often.
A lifestyle medicine provider can help you figure out how to get more fiber into your diet. Click below to book an appointment with a Lifestyle Medicine provider.