Meet Your Best Fiber Friends

Most people are unfamiliar with the fact that different types of fiber exists, with different functions that can benefit your health.

Dietary fibers are found in fruits, veggies, legumes, seeds, nuts and whole grains. Whole grains are an excellent source of fiber, compared with refined grains, because refined sources lack the bran, germ and endosperm, leaving you with more starch and less fiber, nutrients and antioxidants. Food contains all types of fiber, but in different proportions; for example, lentils are rich in insoluble fiber, while oats are richer in soluble fiber.

The institute of Medicine recommends a fiber intake of 25 grams per day for women and 38 grams for men ages 19 to 50. Since older adults take fewer calories they need less fiber; the recommended intake is calculated as 21 grams per day and 30 grams per day for women and men respectively, ages 50 and above.

Recommended amounts include five to nine servings per day of fruits and veggies and 6 servings per day of grains, with half of that from whole grains, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture food guide, MyPlate, Six servings of grain may sound like a lot, but a serving can equal a 1-ounce slice of bread or 1/2 cup of cooked pasta; choosing products with 5 grams of fiber per serving or more is best.

Types of Fibers:

  • Insoluble fibers keeps you regular and strengthens your intestinal muscles. This strong fiber is found in plant cell walls and cannot dissolve in water or be digested, so it passes through, pretty intact, while giving you aa plethora of benefits, including preventing constipation, hemorrhoids and diverticulosis; reducing cardiovascular and type-2 diabetes risk factors; helping maintain healthy weight; and curbing appetite.

Good sources included wheat bran, brown rice, beets, bananas, apples, figs, pumpkins, all leafy greens, berries and beans.

  • Soluble fibers is viscous fiber glues plant cells together, dissolves in water and swells up, forming a gel that grabs bile and eliminates it, forcing the liver to pull more cholesterol from the bloodstream to make more bile, indirectly helping to reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol. It also helps to regulate blood glucose and lower blood pressure, takes out toxins and is fermentable, meaning it supports god bacteria, keeping your immune system strong, with the cost of expelling unwanted gas.

Top sources of soluble fiber are all beans, oat cereals, brussels sprouts, oranges and flax seeds. Other great sources include barley, pears, potatoes, psylliums and prunes.

  • Resistant starch resists digestion, quickly passing through relatively untouched while promoting good-bug gut flora that produce cancer-fighting butyrate fatty acids. A University of Colorado Cancer Center article said that “resistant starch also helps the body resist colorectal cancer through mechanisms, such as killing precancerous cells and reducing inflammation that can otherwise promote cancer.”

Sources include under-ripe bananas and cooked then cooled starchy foods like pastas, potatoes, legumes, oatmeal and rice. This starch is also extracted and added to products. Its recommended to eat these foods at or below room temperature to reap the cancer-fighting benefits; when you heat them up the resistant starch is gone. So let the hot potato cool!

  • Functional fibers are isolated and added to enhance the fiber content and texture of products. Nutrition labels list isolated fibers as cellulose, oat and soy fiber, and soluble sources as inulin, oligofructose, wheat dextrin, polydextrose, polyols, gums, pectin and psyllium.

You can look up which isolated fibers source can benefit you most; for example, wheat dextrin controls blood sugar but, unlike psyllium, cannot reduce cholesterol.

Fiber Tips: Supplements and fortified foods quickly add up, so remember to always stay hydrated to prevent blockage and cramping issues, and avoid excess intake, which can cause gas, bloating, constipation, dehydration and vitamin and mineral loss. Fiber supplements are great; food is always better. Isolated fibers can help you meet daily goals, but it cannot replace the abundant benefits that consuming a variety of fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, mushrooms and whole grains can give.

Source: costco connection

Categories: Health & Fitness

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