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Fiber is part of a healthy diet, discover why
Fiber plays a very important role in a healthy diet. Fiber is found in plants, and dietary fiber –the kind of fiber we eat- comes to us inside the fruits, vegetables and grains we eat.
Human provides no calories, as it cannot be digested by humans. Why is it so important then?
Fiber adds bulk to the diet. This bulk aids digestion by making food move faster through the system; not only preventing constipation but preventing the absorption of unhealthy substances as well. Fiber also protects the intestinal wall. With this function in mind, fiber helps to prevent diabetes, heart disease and diverticulosis, which sometimes develops into colon cancer.
Fiber makes you feel full faster and keeps you satisfied for longer, a priceless function when you are trying to control your weight.
DAILY RECOMMENDED AMOUNT OF FIBER
Older children, teenagers and adults should aim to have 20-35 grams fiber per day. Fresh fruit, vegetables and cereals should be introduced to younger children, but without counting grams. The amount of food young children should eat in a day doesn’t allow to reach this level of fiber in their diet.
WAYS WITH FIBER
The way to ensure adequate fiber intake is to eat a variety of foods, including more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, cereals, and dried beans and peas.
If you are not having enough, add fiber to your diet gradually. Water aids the passage of fiber through the digestive system, so drink plenty of fluids. Take a few weeks to build up the amount of fiber in your diet to avoid discomfort.
When you don’t peel fruits and vegetables, you are actually getting some more fiber. Cooked food may actually increase your fiber intake by decreasing the volume of the food that you eat. Eating fiber rich food is beneficial, no matter if it is cooked or raw.
HOW TO GET FIBER
There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble.
Soluble fiber attracts water and turns to gel during digestion, slowing it. Soluble fiber is found in oat bran, barley, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, peas, and some fruits and vegetables. Soluble fiber has been scientifically proven to lower cholesterol, which can help prevent heart disease.
Insoluble fiber is found in foods such as wheat bran, vegetables, and whole grains. Insoluble fiber seems to speed the passage of foods through the stomach and intestines.
THE DARK SIDE OF FIBER
Eating too much fiber in a short period of time can cause bloating and cramps. This usually goes away once the natural bacteria in the digestive system get used to the increase in fiber in the diet. This is the reason to take some weeks to reach the recommended amount of fiber.
It has been mentioned that too much fiber may interfere with the absorption of minerals such as iron, zinc, magnesium, and calcium. As high fiber foods are usually also rich in minerals, this should not take your sleep away. However, consider this effect in the case of young children.
If you swallow a sharp object by accident –a little piece of broken glass, for instance- eat artichokes and asparagus -bread also helps. Their bulky fiber will wrap the object helping it to go through without causing injure.
About the Author: Anne Ehmer is passionate about food. Non-stop travelling between Europe and United States has somehow afforded Anne time to develop her unique skills in cooking. Her stimulating ideas and recipes are registered in her web sites All Foods Natural and World Food and Wine.