WHAT IS DIETARY
(also known as bulk or roughage) includes all the parts of plant
food that our bodies cannot digest or absorb. Dietary fiber is
found only in plant foods: fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains.
Meat, milk and eggs do not contain fiber.
ARE ALL DIETARY
are two types of dietary fiber, soluble and insoluble. Soluble
fiber dissolves in water to form a gel-like material. It is readily
fermented in the colon into gases and physiologically active byproduct.
fiber promotes the movement of material through your digestive
system and increases stool bulk, so it can be of benefit to those
who struggle with constipation or irregular stools. It is fiber
that is metabolically inert, absorbing water throughout the digestive
system and easing defecation. It acts by changing the nature of
the contents of the gastrointestinal tract, and by changing how
other nutrients and chemicals are absorbed.
is found in oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots
and barley. Whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts and many vegetables
are good sources of insoluble fiber.
TO THE SOLUBLE AND INSOLUBLE FIBERS?
fiber is not digested and is excreted. Soluble (prebiotic, viscous)
fiber is readily fermented in the colon into gases and physiologically
WHAT ARE THE
HEALTH BENEFITS OF FIBER?
has been scientifically proven to lower cholesterol, which can
help prevent heart disease. In addition soluble fiber: lowers
total and LDL cholesterol; regulates blood sugar; balances intestinal
pH and stimulates intestinal fermentation production of short-chain
fatty acids; speeds the passage of foods through the digestive
system; and, adds bulk to your diet, making you feel full faster
fiber-- appears to speed the passage of foods through the stomach
and intestines and adds bulk to the stool. It also facilitates
regularity and alleviates constipation. (For a more detailed description
is dietary fiber (advanced reading).
WHAT ARE SOME
SIDE EFFECTS OF TOO MUCH FIBER?
Eating a large
amount of fiber in a short period of time can cause intestinal
gas (flatulence), bloating, and abdominal cramps. You should add
fiber to your diet slowly. Increasing dietary fiber too quickly
can lead to gas, 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. Adding fiber gradually to the diet, instead
of all at one time, can help reduce gas or diarrhea. Too much
fiber may interfere with the absorption of minerals such as iron,
zinc, magnesium, and calcium. However, this effect usually does
not cause too much concern because high-fiber foods are typically
rich in minerals.
HOW MUCH FIBER
IS NEEDED IN THE DAILY DIET?
North Americans consume less than 50% of the dietary fiber levels
recommended for good health. The average American now eats 10
- 15 grams of fiber per day. The recommendation for older children,
adolescents, and adults is 20 - 35 grams per day.
Dietary Association) ADA's recommendation for children is that
intake should equal age in years plus 5 g/day (e.g., a
4 year old should consume 9 g/day).
will not be able to eat enough calories to achieve this, but it
is a good idea to introduce whole grains, fresh fruits, and other
high-fiber foods. To ensure that you get enough fiber, eat a variety
of foods, including: cereals; dried beans and peas; fruits; vegetables
and whole grains.
gradually over a period of a few weeks to avoid abdominal discomfort.
Water aids the passage of fiber through the digestive system.
Drink plenty of fluids (approximately 8 glasses of water or noncaloric
fluid a day). Peeling can reduce the amount of fiber in fruits
and vegetables. Eating fiber-containing food is beneficial, whether
it is cooked or raw.
YOUR KNOWLEDGE OF THE MATERIAL