Get on the Fiber Train: Part 2

Family shopping for fruitOK, my last blog article touched on some of the benefits of fiber in general and how to determine the amount you need for adults. Now we’ll take fiber, carbohydrates not digested by the body, and distinguish the two main types – “soluble” and “insoluble.” Since I didn’t include amounts for children in the last blog, I’ll list them at the end.

Insoluble fiber is not soluble in water. It has been found to help the digestive process by providing bulk to the intestines, helping it to more quickly and easily move food through the digestive system. Because it speeds up food transit time, it may help prevent not only constipation, but also colon cancer, as it doesn’t allow potentially carcinogenic compounds to remain and be absorbed into the body. Also, its bulk traveling through the digestive system exercises and strengthens intestinal muscles, helping to prevent pouches in the intestinal wall (diverticulosis). Good sources of insoluble fiber include: whole-wheat grains, seeds, nuts, legumes, many varieties of fruits and vegetables. (Many foods have varying amounts of both types of fiber.)

Soluble fiber attracts water and forms a gel. This slows digestion, delays stomach emptying and makes you feel full longer on fewer calories, helping with weight control. Its ability to go into solution is also how it helps lower cholesterol. When food is eaten the gall bladder shoots bile into the intestine to help emulsify the fats. One of the main constituents of bile is cholesterol. Soluble fiber binds with the cholesterol in the bile and takes it from the body, so that we don’t reabsorb it. Some soluble fibers may also help keep blood sugar well-regulated by combating insulin insensitivity. Sources of soluble fiber include: oats, dried beans and peas, barley, various varieties of fruits and vegetables.

When increasing your fiber consumption, be sure to do so gradually and drink plenty of fluids to avoid digestive discomfort.

Children’s Dietary Reference Intakes for fiber:

Male and Female Children:

1-3 years = 19 grams

4-8 years = 25 grams

Male Children:

9-13 years = 31 grams

14-18 years = 38 grams

Female Children:

9-13 years = 26

14-18 years = 26

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