You hear it all the time – you need to make sure you are getting enough fiber in your diet. What exactly does that mean?
According to the American Heart Association, the recommended amount of daily fiber for women under 50 is 25 grams per day, and women over 50 years of age should try to get 21 grams of fiber per day. For men under 50 the target is 38 grams of fiber per day, and men over 50 should try to get 30 grams per day.
Fiber is the indigestible part of fruits and vegetables which pass through your system and help you have bowel movements. Fiber also:
Fiber slows down the digestion of food in your stomach, which lets the glucose from the food slowly enter the blood stream, rather than entering it all at once and causing blood sugar to quickly rise.
There are three types of fiber.
Soluble fiber – this is fiber that dissolves in water and slows down your digestion, which helps lower your cholesterol and blood sugar.
Insoluble fiber – this fiber doesn’t dissolve and passes through the body quickly, helping your stools form and preventing constipation.
Fermentable fiber – this fiber can be both soluble and insoluble, and is important to help you form healthy bacteria in your gut
Yes! Everyone’s gut (stomach and digestive system) contains what is known as the microbiome. This is a combination of different types of bacteria, tiny fungi and other organisms that help you stay well. A healthy microbiome is a result of a healthy lifestyle and can affect everything from your immune system to your metabolism. A diet rich in fiber-rich foods including fruits, grains, and vegetables will feed your body with nutrients and help create a richer, healthier microbiome. Foods high in fat and sugar and animal products do the opposite.
The important thing to know is that you can increase the fiber in your diet without increasing calories. Fruits and vegetables are loaded with fiber, while most processed foods and foods like meat and dairy products have little to no fiber at all. Here are some examples:
As you can see, it really isn’t hard for those fiber grams to add up in your day if you are making healthy choices!
Try making small changes in your daily diet, such as:
These small changes can add up to big health benefits in the long run. If you have questions about your digestive needs, it’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor about your particular health concerns.
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