Fiber Forever! - WellStart Health

Food & Nutrition

Fiber Forever!

One of the single most important disease prevention things you can do for your health is to eat a little carbohydrate cell fiber. Dietary fibers are found naturally in the plants that we eat. They are parts of the plant that do not break down in our stomachs, and instead pass through our system undigested. All dietary fibers are either soluble or insoluble… Soluble fiber dissolves in water. Insoluble fiber does not. These differences equate to how each fiber functions in the body and benefits our health.

We currently have this mistaken cultural worldview that carbohydrates are bad! Carbohydrates are not bad – they are so important for health, energy, and especially for our brain! Our brains thrive on good carbohydrates (that is, whole grains -- not stripped, processed ones). Rather than avoid them, you must consume them for optimal health. Think of this as a prescription to eat baked potatoes, brown rice, corn, fruit, and oatmeal.

Be picky about what carbohydrates you eat. Eat foods as whole as possible. Eat foods that don’t have unrecognizable ingredients. Aim to eat foods that have no less then 2-4 grams of fiber (the more the merrier.) But this doesn’t mean just sprinkling fiber powder over low fiber cereal in the morning. Rather, try to eat fresh, natural, whole plant foods. Eat baked or roasted potatoes instead of chips or fries. Eat brown rice and quinoa instead of breads and crackers (a slice of 100% whole wheat bread is ok, but try to eat foods as close to their natural state as possible). Eat oranges instead of drinking orange juice. Think whole. Think fiber. Think health.

The two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble

Soluble fiber is soluble (or dissolves) in water. Soluble fiber attracts water and creates a gel, which slows down the digestion process. Soluble fiber delays the emptying of your stomach and makes you feel full, which helps control weight. Slower digestion may also have a positive effect on blood sugar levels and have a beneficial effect on insulin sensitivity, which may help control diabetes. Soluble fibers can also help lower LDL (“bad”) blood cholesterol by impeding the absorption of dietary cholesterol.

Insoluble fiber is not soluble in water. This means it is quickly flushed from the body and this helps keep you regular and clean. If you do get constipated, try adding more insoluble fiber to your diet to get things moving. Insoluble fiber can help prevent constipation, hemorrhoids, and bowel problems. It can also help with weight loss by keeping you full longer. 

Think of it this way: Soluble fiber fills you up. Insoluble fiber cleans you out. P.S. eat your fruit and veggie skins!

*note, many of these foods have both types of fiber!


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