Leia Flure, Registered Dietitian joins us for Healthy Living.
Fiber is fabulous!
What is it and where does it come from?
It comes from plants and is a type of carbohydrate! But we don’t digest it, so we don’t absorb the calories.
Did you know that there are actually two types of fiber?
· Soluble – absorbs water to make a sticky gel-like substance
· Insoluble – doesn’t dissolve, what we think of as roughage
Are they different in their health effects?
· Weight maintenance: Both types of fiber can help control hunger and therefore help you lose weight
· Digestive health: Helps keep you regular! Insoluble fiber adds bulk to your stool, while soluble fiber soaks up water and helps make bowel movements easier to pass (think of it like a sponge!). A higher intake of fiber can help prevent constipation and diarrhea, hemorrhoids, diverticulitis, and even colorectal cancer.
· Cardiovascular health: soluble fiber attaches to cholesterol particles and takes them out of the body.
· Prebiotic effects: Fiber is what we call a pre-biotic, because it’s food for the probiotic bacteria that live in our guts. There’s a ton of research going on right now about these bacteria, but they may play a role in obesity, type 2 diabetes, IBS, colon cancer, and more. They might also be beneficial for your immune system. So feed those friendly bacteria!
So how do we get more fiber? Do we need to focus on getting enough of each type?
· No need to focus on type, as most high fiber foods have a mix of both
· I recommend whole food sources of fiber first (rather than supplemental fiber like the kind you mix into drinks), because that way you get all the other good nutrients that come with these foods
· Fruits and vegetables – make sure to eat the skin!
· Whole grains – oatmeal is especially well known for its link to heart health
Add fiber gradually!
· This will minimize gas and bloating
· Similar to soreness when you start working out – your body will adjust!
· Drink lots of water