Are we getting enough daily fiber from our diets? How do we know if we are getting enough and what are the main sources of dietary fiber?
Fiber – the indigestible portion of foods are what help cleanse the lungs and colon; these are the bran of grains, the pulp of fruits, and the cell walls of vegetables. Most sources of fiber improve the functioning of the intestines. Pectin, a fiber in apples, cherries, carrots and other produce can eliminate cholesterol from the digestive tract, whereas wheat bran has little effect on this. The fiber in oats is also beneficial for eliminating cholesterol from the intestines (another great reason to eat your morning oats!)
Signs of inadequate fiber from our diets can easily be seen (or felt) by bloating, constipation, dull skin, mucus in our lungs (from a rich diet), and problems in overall colon health. Not drinking enough water throughout the day will also contribute to a sluggish colon, leading to all kinds of the problems. Research on colon health has shown fiber to be beneficial in curing and preventing, diverticulosis, colon cancer, hemorrhoids and appendicitis (researchers are linking this to a blocked ileocecal valve). Fiber encourages healthful bacterial growth in the colon which aids in the assimilation of nutrients and the formation of cancer-resistant bowel acids. Fiber is also a source of pentose – an anti-cancer agent.
The balanced approach to getting enough fiber: eating a variety of different types of fiber in the form of whole vegetal foods – foods like broccoli, carrots, most leafy greens, apples, pears and most fruit and berries. The recommended daily intake of fiber a day is approximately 25-35g per day. if you are having at least 1 cup of steamed veggies with most of your daily meals then you should be getting a good amount of dietary fiber.
Soluble and Insoluble fibers – what is the difference between these two fibers? Soluble fiber dissolves in water and is readily fermented in the colon and can be probiotic. Soluble fibers tend to slow movement of food through the system. Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water; it can provide bulk and absorb water as they move through the digestive system. Plant foods contain both types of fiber depending on the plants characteristics.
Sources of soluble and insoluble: soluble – legumes, oats, rye, chia, berries, ripe bananas, inside of apples and pears. Certain vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, sweet potatoes, psyllium seed husk and flax seeds and almonds. Insoluble – whole grains, corn bran, legumes (beans, peas), seeds, potato skins, lignans, green beans, cauliflower, zucchini, kiwifruit, tomato and avocado.
The use of fiber supplements are also used to aid in the increase intake of fiber. If using a fiber supplement mix like Nutracleanse or North Coast Naturals ‘Daily Cleanse make sure you are drinking an adequate amount of water daily (10 glasses). Increasing our daily fiber intake and making sure you’re getting enough daily fiber is important to not only keep a healthy colon but it will also aid in weight loss!