Fibers are very healthy additions to our diet. For the stomach, fiber is a bulky enough to make you feel full longer. Fibers hold onto water and thus will slow down the emptying of the stomach. Soluble fibers decreases the glycemic effect of a meal. With the small intestine, it is a similar situation: the presence of fiber speeds up the digestive process, and makes it easier.
Soluble fibers are most likely to fermentation: so gums, berries, beans, plums, oat, apples, flax seeds, and fiber supplements. On the other hand, insoluble fiber can be found in vegetables, bran, and it is not likely to fermentation. It is still important for colon health. It provides the bulk in stool and helps speed the stool move along.
Fibers are also thought to decrease the chances of having colon cancer. It does so by having insoluble fiber move the GI tract swiftly and thus reduces the contact time with potential toxins in the colon. Bulky stool that is high in water can also get rid of carcinogens. Fibers can, furthermore, discourage the growth of harmful bacteria and helps healthy bacteria to grow in the colon.
Research has not shown a strong connection between colorectal and colon cancers and fiber. In addition, research has not shown any connections with fiber and prostate and breast cancers either. Most studies have unveiled no connection between most cancers and fibers. However, diabetes is affected by fiber because fiber helps control blood sugar levels and can decrease the risk of having Type II diabetes. Furthermore, fiber helps with heart disease. It lowers blood cholesterol levels. It also helps with constipation, weight control (since it has no calories and helps maintain blood sugar), and prevents diverticulitis which is an intestinal condition.
Back in the 1970’s, fiber became somewhat of a household name because of the Customized Fat Loss diet. He discovered that in Africa, there were not popular diseases that were around in the western world like heart attacks, high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes. Other popular diseases in the west were intestinal problems, like constipation, diverticulitis, diverticulosis, appendicitis, hemorrhoids, polyps, and colon cancer. Another popular disease in the west was blood clots.
Whole foods are better than fiber supplements. Supplements do not provide variety of fibers, minerals, and vitamins. Some people need supplements if they do not change their diets or if the changes are not enough. Sometimes, they have medical conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhea, constipation, and so on. Doctors may recommend the use of fiber supplements.
Fiber can also be added to foods, but it is not clear if added fiber to food has the same health as plain old, regularly natural fiber.
So, what are the advices for us who want to improve our health with fiber?
First, make sure you switch to whole grains. Look for all grains whole: whole wheat, whole flour, and so on. Make sure you look at the labels before you buy the products. Try brown rice, wild rice, barley, bulgur, wheat pasta; they are all delicious options.
Try to increase your baked goods! Substitute regular white flour with whole grain flour. Use more yeast in yeast breads. Increase baking powder to 1 teaspoon for every three cups of whole grain flour. Try to add cereal, crushed oats to your muffins and cupcakes.
Try to mix up your food. Add fresh or frozen veggies to your sauces, casseroles, soups, and so on. Add more salads to your daily intake of food.
Add good sources of fiber like legumes: beans, lentils, peas. Kidney beans in a salad are yummy. You can make burritos and incorporate various forms of fiber in one meal!