Fiber is a friend to your digestive tract. Dietary fiber comes in two forms — soluble and insoluble — one dissolves in water the other doesn’t: think Metamucil vs. peas. They each play roles in both weight control and maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. Soluble fiber can make you feel full longer and insoluble bulks up when mixed with water, stopping constipation.
Neither form of fiber breaks down in the body, they create no starches, nor do they have any nutritional value. The human body doesn’t contain the enzymes to break down fiber into carbohydrates. Soluble fiber binds to glucose and removes it from the body. Additionally, soluble fiber can lower cholesterol levels. Insoluble fiber removes water from the colon and aids bowel movements.
Dietary fiber is also beneficial for your gut bacteria fights inflammation and, according to researchers at the Univ. of Illinois, can aid healthy aging. They saw a reduction of inflammation in the brains and intestines of older mice, helping healthy aging. Although the research was performed in mice, the head of the project believes that the findings cross over into humans. Rodney Johnson said, “What you eat matters. We know that older adults consume 40 percent less dietary fiber than is recommended. Not getting enough fiber could have negative consequences for things you don’t even think about, such as connections to brain health and inflammation in general.”
To get the benefits of fiber, you should consume 20-35 grams of fiber and 64 ounces of fluid a day. Keep in mind the source of your fiber, raw veggies and fruit with skin are a great source. But granola bars — while high in fiber — can be loaded with sugar. Check out this great list of foods that are high in fiber. Needless to say, just because a food is an excellent source of fiber doesn’t mean it isn’t also a great source of sugar so be sure to read labels and make sure you know what you’re eating.
With so many delicious foods being good sources of fiber, it’s easier to get your daily amount than one might think! So, make this Monday the day you start paying attention to fiber!