Wellness Club — Fiber

Wellness Club — Fiber
Abingdon, VA. - Friday, Oct 1, 2021.

Written by: Hannah Stewart, East Tennessee State University, Dietetic Intern 

Do you love nutrition? I sure do, with every fiber of my being!  Speaking of fiber...you have probably been told to eat more fiber, but do you really know why?  Fiber is essential to a healthy diet, and it’s best known for its role in gastrointestinal health. However, fiber can provide other health benefits as well, such as helping to maintain a healthy weight by promoting satiety, and lowering your risk of diabetes, heart disease and some types of cancers. 

Insoluble fiber includes the parts of plant foods the body can't digest or absorb. Unlike fats, proteins, and carbohydrates which are broken down and absorbed, insoluble fiber isn't digested by the body, so it can keep you fuller longer.

There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. 

Insoluble fiber like discussed above, is found in food sources like fruits with edible skins, uncooked vegetables, nuts, legumes, brown rice and whole grain flours. Insoluble fibers pass through the gut quickly and can help with constipation. Foods high in soluble fiber are oats, oat bran, barley, dried beans and peas and certain fruits and vegetables such as strawberries, apples, potatoes, and citrus fruits.  Soluble fiber may help firm stool and reduce diarrhea by acting like a sponge in the gut.  Consuming foods high in soluble fiber is especially important for those who have diabetes. It can help lower blood sugar because it helps slow how fast foods are digested and supports heart health.  

The average adult only consumes about 15 grams of fiber per day, but it is recommended we eat 25 to 35 grams of fiber per day. If adding fiber to your diet, start slow and be sure to drink 6 to 8 cups of water per day. 

Adding fiber isn’t hard, it’s easy and fun! Try snacking on fresh fruits instead of that piece of candy. Hummus and other bean dips are filled with fiber and pair great with a side of whole grain crackers and vegetables.