Increasing Fiber For Optimum Health

by Bobski606

Fiber is a vital component of any healthy diet as it keeps you digestive track healthy however, most of the population don't eat enough fiber so find out how you can get more.

Fiber is a very important part of our diets and helps to prevent constipation and keep our guts healthy. Without fiber our food would not be able to move through the intestines and we would have many problems with our bowels and tummies. On the other hand if you have too much fiber and not enough water then things will start to get bunged up and you'll run into problems that way too. The key is to balance your diet for optimum health.

To promote the health benefits of fiber the nation decided that February should be National Fiber Month. For the entire month it is all about promoting fiber and how you can get the right balance in your diet without going overboard. If you're having a healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and plenty of water then you should be having enough fiber to keep your gut healthy. However, if you're a fan of the junk food you might find that you do get tummy problems from time to time and these are things that you can do to prevent those issues in the future.

Take a look through this article to find the best foods to eat for fiber and how much you should be eating per day. You'll also find some great item (that I've tried and tested) to help combat constipation - if you've ever had bad constipation then you'll know how much these softeners mean to you.

Photo Credit: Catch A Rainbow, Allposters.

What Is Fiber?

Roughage, Bulk ...

Fiber is the cornerstone of a healthy gut and can be found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lentils, beans, nuts and seeds. When these foods are broken down in the digestive tract they leave behind a bulk that the body cannot digest or absorb. The body needs this bulk, or roughage, to help push through the waste left over from all the other foods that you eat.

There are two types of fiber that work in conjunction with your colon to keep everything running smoothly: insoluble and soluble fibers. Insoluble fiber is the plant material that makes up the roughage and helps to clean the colon. The roughage absorbs water helping to keep you full - a great trick if you're trying to drop a few pounds. The best foods to eat for this type of fiber are: whole grains, barley, brown rice, carrots, nuts and seeds.

Soluble fiber combines with the special enzymes from the liver to create a gel. This gel helps to prevent the body absorbing harmful toxins and substances and also to control blood sugar and cholesterol. The best foods to eat for this type of fiber are: oatmeal, fruit, beans, peas and lentils.

Do You Think Fiber Is Important To Your Health?

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How Much Fiber Should I Eat?

Too Much Or Not Enough?

According to WebMD most American's are only getting about 15 grams of fiber a day which is well below the actual recommended daily amount. For an average women she'll need to consume at least 25 grams per day and for the average man he'll need to take in 38 grams of fiber from a wide variety of healthy sources.

Although most of the population aren't getting enough fiber you also need to make sure that you're not going overboard by eating too much fiber either. When you start getting above 50 grams of fiber a day then you'll need to cut back as you could be missing out on many vital nutrients that your body needs. Sure, fiber is important to good health but like everything else fiber needs moderation otherwise you can run into tummy problems and malnutrition as the fiber could be replacing those much needed vitamins and minerals.

If you're not sure how much fiber you're consuming it'll be helpful if you start to write down what you eat in a food journal (see the Benefits Of Writing In A Journal for more information). By writing everything you eat down you'll soon be able to spot what your habits are and where you can improve as you're going to have all of the data there in front of you and the patterns you make on a daily basis with your food choices. A lot of people also find that as soon as they start to keep a food journal then they find themselves a lot more aware of what they are eating and what their cravings are so you might find yourself eating more fiber without actually making any proper decisions about it.

Once you've established how much you're consuming you can start to add in more fiber slowly (if necessary) by a couple of grams a day. If you have a sudden change of diet you can have tummy problems such as constipation and diarrhea where you're body isn't used to it. You will find that you may even lose a few pounds simply by adding in more fiber because you'll stay fuller for longer and be less inclined to snack on junk food as your blood sugar will remain fairly stable throughout the day.

Ideally your fiber needs to come from natural food sources however some people will struggle with hitting their daily intake amounts. Don't worry though because this is where fiber supplements come into play. You may find yourself needing to take a fiber supplement if you are first of all on a low-calorie diet and simply can't afford to switch out nutrient dense foods for higher fiber content ones; when calories are restricted then every single one counts as your body will need to make use of them to repair cells and get healthier. There's a wide variety of supplements available on the market so make sure you do your research to find out which one is best for you or ask your pharmacist for more information before purchase.

Fiber Supplements

Top Ups For Those That Struggle With The RDA
NOW Foods Psyllium Husk 500mg, 500 Vcaps

Psyllium Husk 500 mg 500 Capsules supports to increase the intake of dietary fiber and helps with regulating gastrointestinal health

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Vitafusion Fiber Well Fit Gummies, 90 Count

Fiber Supplement. 5 grams of fiber per serving. Now you can enjoy your fiber. Fiber is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle, but many of us don’t get enough fiber. Vitafusio...

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How Much Fiber Do You Consume Per Day?

Preventing Constipation With A Nice Fruit Salad

Soluble Fiber Sources
Close-Up of a Variety of Fresh Fruits in Salad
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Complications From A Lack Of Fiber

If you're not getting enough fiber you may find that you're experiencing some tummy troubles such as constipation or weight gain this is because you have an unhealthy gut. By not getting enough fiber in your diet you're putting yourself at risk for a whole host of nasty problems such as obesity, constipation, and high cholesterol to name a few.

Obesity
Both types of fiber help to keep your weight in check and stop the pounds from creeping on. Soluble fiber creates the gel that helps to keep your blood sugar stable which prevents the sudden drops in energy that cause you to go and binge on those high calorie junk food snacks to give you the buzz you need to get through the day.

The insoluble fiber will keep you feel full for ages which means you are less likely to snack on yucky junk food and more like to select good for you foods at meal times. If you're looking to lose some weight without going on a restrictive diet then simply adding in a few extra grams of fiber will help you to do this.

Constipation
Ever experienced bloating, cramping and hard stools that hurt when they pass? Then welcome to the world of constipation. If you don't bite this in the bud now they you could be looking at some serious complications down the road: fecal impaction sound interesting to you? You'd better start drinking your water and eating your fiber to help clean out your colon and make the best of all those yummy nutrients you're consuming.

Soluble fiber and the wonderful gel it makes with the liver help to soften the stools and make them nice and easy to pass whereas the insoluble fiber absorbs excess water in the colon, prevents harmful toxins being absorbed, cleans the colon, and pushes through all the waste in your gut. Without these you're going to have a tough time in the bathroom.

High Cholesterol
We're back to the wonderful gel created by those awesome liver enzymes and the soluble fiber again, can you see a pattern emerging here? This great gel prevents the "bad" cholesterol - the type that if it's left unchecked contributes to heart disease - from getting out of hand and keeps it at bay. The gel also slows down the process that releases cholesterol into the blood which over time helps to prevent heart disease and blood pressure problems - just don't forget to exercise though as that's a vital component too!

My Favorite Top 10 High Fiber Foods

Not all foods have been created equal when it comes to fiber; some have a lot and others have hardly any. Normally, when you eat a healthy and varied diet getting enough fiber is easy but if you've realized that you're not getting enough then by adding these great foods slowly into your diet then you'll start feeling much much better.

    1. Oatmeal: 4g per cup
    2. Chia Seeds: 10.6g per ounce
    3. Navy Beans: 19.1g per cup
    4. Almonds: 17.4g per cup of whole almonds
    5. Flax seeds: 2.7g per tablespoon
    6. Raspberries: 8g per cup
    7. Corn: 2g per single ear
    8. Avocado: 10g per fruit
    9. Brown Rice: 3.5g per cup
    10. Edamame: 9g per half cup

Now that you've got your list of high fiber foods you're probably thinking where you can add them into your diet right? Well, I've got another great list of 5 Healthy High Fiber Snacks to get you going. You can be really creative with this foods and as long as you've got a bit of an imagination you can easily swap them in. For example when you're making a chili swap out half the meat for some navy beans and you've got a fiber packed meal right there.

One Last Tip For Constipation

If you find yourself constipated then you should make an effort to drink at least a couple of extra glasses of water a day. The water will get reabsorbed into the hardened stools and make them a lot softer and easier to pass. 

If you have trouble drinking enough water try using a filter to make the water taste better. You may also want to consider adding some flavoring such as a slice of lemon or lime and some people find that they are better able to tolerate water when it is hold or cold but not room temperature. Experiment with water in different ways and you'll soon find a way that you enjoy to drink it.

Make Your Water Interesting

Lemon Flavored Water
A Wedge of Lemon Falling into a Glass of Water
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Related Articles

You may find that you need some addition information based on the other topics that I have touched up in this article. The following articles should be able to answer your questions if not please leave me a comment and I'll endeavor to get back to you.

Updated: 01/01/2014, Bobski606
 
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