Fiber: Why It Matters More Than You Think

by carko on February 13, 2015

Fiber is famous for improving regularity and helping lower cholesterol. But dietary fiber also performs other key roles that might surprise you, affecting everything from your skin to your gallbladder, heart and immunity. Fiber-rich foods work wonders in the body including regulating blood-sugar levels, reducing the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, breast cancer, colon cancer and gastrointestinal disorders such as reflux, duodenal ulcer, irritable bowel and diverticulitis (inflammation of abnormal pouches in the wall of the large intestine or colon), and also supporting weight loss.

Most of us know we need fiber in our diet, yet unfortunately most of us just don’t get enough. There are two kinds of fiber: soluble and non-soluble. When toxins are dumped from our cells into the blood they are carried to the liver for removal. The liver removes the toxins from the blood and sends them to the intestine in what is called bile. In the intestine, the toxins get attached to the soluble fiber and carried out of our bodies. If there is no soluble fiber the toxins get reabsorbed back into the blood.

I took a look at my Shaklee 180 Shake and found that it contained 6 gm of fiber – 4 gm of soluble fiber. The Trader Joe’s High Fiber Cereal that I have been eating had 9 gm fiber but less than 1 gm of it was soluble. I would have to eat 4 bowls to get that same amount of soluble fiber that is in one Shaklee 180 shake. Many products at the store just say fiber and don’t tell you what kind is in it. My guess would be they don’t have any soluble fiber at all. I’m a stickler for labels and will keep a close eye on that.

More Fiber, Please! Recommendations for daily fiber intake range from 20 to 40 grams, but by some estimates, the average American eats only 8 grams. But we don’t just need more fiber, experts say: We need more fiber distributed in small meals and snacks throughout the day.
“If you have all your fiber in one serving, it only acts on the food you eat then, not on the food you eat hours later,” says Christine Gerbstadt, MD, RDRN, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. “Fiber doesn’t hang around waiting for the next meal. If you want fiber to regulate your blood sugar all day, you have to eat it all day.”

Real whole foods are a good source for fiber. Beans, in particular, are the richest source of soluble fiber and protein. Skip the canned beans which are loaded with sodium and buy the boxed ones. Organic brands are very easy to find.

Here are some other good fiber sources:
Soluble fiber: dried beans, lentils, oat bran, oatmeal, rice bran, barley, citrus fruits, strawberries and apple pulp.
Insoluble fiber: whole grains (including wheat, rye, rice, barley and most other grains), cabbage, beets, carrots, Brussels sprouts, turnips, cauliflower and apple skin.
Prebiotic fiber: legumes, wheat, barley, potatoes, rice, bananas, artichokes, onions and garlic.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

katherine February 24, 2011 at 12:28 pm

Hi Cindy, Very helpful distinctions you are making! Even with my background in food and health I tend to lump all fiber in the same “get more of it” camp without thinking about it. That’s where your list comes in handy – I eat things in all the categories on an every day basis…phew! 🙂

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