Our Gastroenterology Blog

Posts for tag: fiber

By GI Associates
February 04, 2019
Category: blog
Tags: fiber  

The little-known benefits of a fiber-rich diet

Fiber is essential for a healthy diet. It helps your digestive system move along smoothly, aiding in weight loss and helping you feel fuller longer. When you take a closer look at this unsung hero of the digestive system, you’ll find that there’s a lot more to fiber than just bowel movements.

Tips for a Fantastic, Fibrous Future: 

Start small: If you’re not used to consuming foods with a higher fiber content, hitting the ground running might not be the best idea. Too much fiber too fast can lead to bloating, discomfort, and constipation. Start with replacing one snack a day with a fiber-packed option (a banana, apple, or brown rice are good choices to start). And, instead of going to a full fiber cereal in the morning, make it half your regular cereal and half your fiber-rich option. Here is a list of foods that deliver on fiber.

When you can, skip the supplements: Any fiber is better than no fiber, but if possible, it’s best to get your fiber from the food in your diet rather than fiber supplements. According to the Mayo Clinic, it's best to get fiber from food, because supplements don't provide the vitamins, minerals, and satisfaction eating food provides. 

Serve with a side of water: Water is essential for fiber to work its best. Not enough water can lead to constipation. Keep things moving with the power couple of fiber and water.

Get ready to age backwards: Fiber can do some really impressive things: Fiber-rich foods like beans, vegetables, fruit, nuts, and whole grains come with a healthy dose of anti-aging and disease-fighting properties. According to research commissioned by the World Health Organization, “people who eat lots of high-fiber and whole grain foods have lower risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and other chronic diseases than people whose diets are low in fiber.” 

Make long-term plans: It’s that simple: People who consume fiber live longer. A recent report found that people “who ate between 25 grams and 29 grams a day of fiber were less likely to die during any given time period than people who ate less fiber.”

If you are struggling with irregularity or other digestive health concerns, make an appointment with the experts at GI Associates by calling 715.847.2558 or filling out our online appointment request form today.

How to add more fiber to your diet

Fiber is one of the most important parts of a healthy diet, yet surprisingly, we can’t physically digest any of it. Instead, fiber is used to regulate the digestive process and help our bodies absorb nutrients from food.

Dietary fiber is derived from plants and is indigestible to humans. There are two types of dietary fiber: soluble fiber and insoluble fiber.

Soluble fiber dissolves in water to form a gel-like material in our intestines. Soluble fiber can help lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels. Some examples include fruit, nuts, oatmeal, and sweet potatoes.

Insoluble Fiber does not dissolve in water and increases the bulk of waste products. It also enhances movement of waste products through the digestive system. Some examples include whole-wheat flour, beans, vegetables, and potatoes.

To achieve a healthy digestive system, you must obtain a healthy balance of both soluble and insoluble fibers to gain the most benefits from your food.

If managed properly, fiber can help the digestive system produce the healthiest bowel movements possible. If managed improperly, fiber can cause constipation or diarrhea.

Fiber and fluid intake

Fiber can only be effective if your fluid intake is also up to par. If you eat the recommended amount of fiber in a day and don’t drink enough water, you can experience constipation. If you eat the recommended amount of fiber in a day and drink too much water, it can cause diarrhea.

Recommended amounts of fiber:

The recommended amounts of daily fiber intake are as follows:

  • Children ages 1-8 – 19-25g
  • Children ages 9-18 – 25-31g
  • Women 19-50 years of age – 25g
  • Men 19-50 years of age – 38g
  • Women 50+ years of age – 21g
  • Men 50+ years of age – 30g

If you find it difficult to take in the recommended amount of fiber through food, there are fiber supplements that can help you achieve your daily goal. Fiber supplements work similarly to fiber-rich foods because you have to drink an appropriate amount of fluid for them to be effective. However, you shouldn’t solely rely on a fiber supplement as a replacement because natural foods offer more beneficial nutrients.

Foods that contain 5+ grams of fiber:

  • 5 dried prunes
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • ½ cup cooked barley
  • ½ cup dried beans, peas or legumes
  • 1 cup whole wheat pasta
  • 1 medium pear
  • 1 medium apple
  • 1 ounce almonds
  • 3 cups popcorn

Foods that contain 2 – 4 grams of fiber:

  • ½ cooked potato with skin
  • ½ cup cooked brown rice
  • ½ cup broccoli
  • ½ cup raw carrots
  • 1 slice whole wheat bread
  • 1 small bran muffin
  • ½ cup oatmeal

If you plan to add more fiber to your diet, do so gradually. Remember to take in the proper amount of fluids to balance out the fiber intake. Fiber is extremely beneficial for a healthy digestive system and helps your body absorb key nutrients from food.

Let GI Associates help to get your digestive system in check. Contact us at 877-442-7762.