All about Fibers

You may avoid vegetables, nuts, pulse or all kinds of wholegrain food because you think they make you feel bloated. Moreover, fibers are good for you! Let me explain to you why and how you can increase your fibers intake slowly.

What it is?

First you may have heard about fiber but you don’t really know what it is. Fiber is the part of plant, or seed, that your body can’t digest. But not being able to digest and absorb fiber doesn’t make them useless. They can reach the large intestine and the colon where they will feed your bacteria.

Bacteria?!

Don’t be afraid about that. We have billions of “good” bacteria in our large intestine and they play an important role in our health and digestion. For example, they take a lot of space, so the “bad” bacteria can’t make our intestine their home.

Let’s get back to the topic: fibers. There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. They have different roles. We can find both types in the same food but there is often one more than the other. They have different roles. The main difference is soluble fibers can dissolve in water, but insoluble one can’t.

Why should I eat fiber?

Eating fiber presents a lot of benefices. Here a list of the most ‘important’:

  • Make your stools look good

Increase your fibers intake increase your stool bulk. Hence, your stools can be softened or firmed based on your need.

  • Feed your colon and your bacteria

Fibers are not digested or absorbed in the small intestine but there are broken down into smaller pieces. When they reach the large intestine and the colon, the good bacteria residing there convert soluble fibers into short chain fatty acid. The colon cells use them for energy and staying healthy. If there is a lack, the mucosa of the colon can be inflamed.

Like we discussed before, we house billions of bacteria in our large intestine and colon. It is like they are renting our intestine: we provide them a room and food, and in exchange, they help us to digest food that we can’t absorb by ourselves. They also help avoid the “bad bacteria” to take place. We call it a symbiosis.

 

 

  • Reduce blood sugar

Soluble fiber contains in food slows the emptying of the stomach and lengthens the time it takes for sugar to be absorbed. This helps to improve your blood sugar level and is beneficial in preventing and controlling diabetes. It will make you feel stuffed for a long time.

  • Reduce cholesterol

Soluble fibers form a kind of viscus gel when there come in contact with water. They can capture cholesterol which is later eliminated in the stools.

  • They make you eat less

Fibers make you feel stuffed more quickly. More so, vegetable are a source of fibers and minerals. Eat how much as you can. High fiber meal avoids snacking.

  • Helps maintain bowel health.

Reduce the pressure the bowel uses to move its content through. A high-fiber diet helps to prevent the risk of colon cancer. A high-fiber diet may lower your risk of developing haemorrhoids.

 

Where can I find them?

Depending of the types of fiber, here some examples (non-exhaustive list)

  • Soluble fibers

Fruits: banana, mangoes, papaya

Vegetable: parnish, squash, carrots, avocado

Quinoa, soya, rice, barley, oatmeal

Flaxseed, psyllium

 

  • Insoluble fibers

Fruits: apple, apricot, cherries grapes, peach, pineapple, prune

Vegetable: eggplant, cauliflower, broccoli, cucumber, onion, tomato, peas

Lentils, whole grains, nuts, beans, chia seed

How can they help me?

If you suffer from diarrhoea, focus on soluble fiber. If you are more constipated, emphasize on insoluble ones.

 

How much fiber I should eat?

The World Health Recommendation recommends a consumption of 25-30g of fibers per day. Most people eat around 10 to 15g per day.

 

How can I increase my fiber intake?

First of all, one important thing: increase slowly! Make your body use to it; otherwise, you can be bloated.

 

Tips to help you to increase your fiber intake
  • Choose high fiber breakfast cereals (no added sugars)
  • Choose fresh fruits or smoothie instead of juices
  • Focus on wholegrain: whole-wheat, pasta, brown rice…
  • Keep potatoes or other vegetables skin on whenever possible. Skin contains fibers, vitamins and minerals
  • Include plenty of veggie: at least 5 portions per day, which means about 5 handfuls. They can be frozen. More diverse vegetables you eat, more diverse your microbiota will be.
  • Add pulses and nuts in your diet
Key ideas

Fibers are good for you and your gut. Increase slowly your fiber intake and don’t forget to drink plenty of water

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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