by Sarah Barnes, MS, RD/LD
Dietary fiber is an edible portion of a plant that is indigestible and can be beneficial to our diet. There are two types of dietary fiber: Soluble and Insoluble. Fiber promotes many health benefits and protects against many chronic illnesses.
Soluble Fiber: Soluble fiber is a type of fiber that mixes with water to form a gel like substance. This gel like substance coats the inside of the intestines and provides many health benefits. Soluble fiber is known to delay gastric emptying which helps us to feel full longer. This type of fiber is also good for lowering cholesterol by binding to it in the intestines and reducing cholesterol absorption. Soluble fiber helps control diabetes by delaying the absorption of glucose.
Insoluble Fiber: Insoluble fiber is responsible for adding bulk to stools and decrease intestinal transit time. Insoluble fiber is shown to reduce constipation. This type of fiber is also known to reduce the risk of colon cancer.
There are also many health benefits associated with increasing fiber intake.
Aids in weight loss: Fiber helps you stay full longer by adding bulk to your foods without adding additional calories.
Reduce heart disease: Some studies show that fiber may help reduce the development of heart disease by lowing LDL, the bad cholesterol in our body.
Reduce the development of Diverticulitis: Fiber helps to reduce the pressure within the colon which helps prevent the development of diverticulosis. Already have diverticulosis? High fiber intake also decreases the inflammation or flare up of the diverticulosis.
While currently, the average person only consumes approximately 15 grams of fiber a day, it is recommended to strive to get 25-35 grams of fiber/day. So next time you sit down for a meal, opt for a bowl of oatmeal in the morning for breakfast with your coffee and don’t pass on the steamed vegetables.
For nutritional counseling, Norman Regional Health System offers the guidance of registered dietitians. Those interested can schedule an appointment for an assessment with a referral from their family physician.