Friday, November 30, 2012

Fabulous Fiber!

We see it everywhere; eat this it is filled with Fiber! So what is fiber and what does it do for us? 

Low Calorie - High Fiber!

Fiber is largely a complex carbohydrate. The building blocks of all carbohydrates are different types of sugars and then can be classified according to how many sugar molecules are combined in the carbohydrate. Dietary fiber includes non-starch polysaccharides, oligosaccharides, liginin (not a carbohydrate), and associated plant substances. 

Fiber is exclusively a plant nutrient, so by increasing our intake of plants in comparison to animal foods you will be increasing your fiber intake. 

The Fiber in complex carbohydrates slows down the digestion of these foods considerably. As a result the glucose enters the blood in a slow, steady stream providing us with sustained energy over a prolonged period of time. Fiber also adds bulk making us feel full when eating more plants versus simple carbohydrates. 

Dietary Fiber is indigestible by the body, but plays an important role as it moves through the digestive tract helping to move wastes out of the intestines, keeping our bowels in good health. Fiber also holds water making our stools soft to prevent constipation. 

A diet with sufficient amount of fiber may reduce the risk of colon cancer, lower blood fats, help balance sugar levels, boost energy, improve immunity, minimize risks to bowel and digestive disorders and enhance elimination and detoxification. 

Current recommendations suggest that adults consume 20-35 grams of dietary fiber per day. Children over the age of two should consume an amount equal to or greater than their age plus 5 grams per day.

Soluble Fiber: Barley, legumes, oat bran, oatmeal, nuts and seeds, fruit (apples, pears, strawberries, blueberries) and vegetables!
  • In the cells walls of plants
  • Includes gums, mucilage, and pectin
  • Partially dissolves, blends with water to form a gel in the intestinal tract
  • Promotes regularity, fullness, slow digestion

Insoluble Fiber: Whole grains (couscous, barley, whole wheat), nuts, wheat bran, fruit and vegetables (carrots, cucumbers, zucchini, celery, tomatoes).

  • Plant cell walls that do not dissolve in water
  • Cellulose, hemi-cellulose and lignin
  • Does not break down during digestive process
  • Does not dissolve in water but can bind with it (absorbs it like a sponge)
  • It causes bulk to ease and regulate bowel movement through intestines, and softness to stool

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