Julie Gormley MS, RD, CNSC
Registered Dietitian, Kaiser Permanente
A fiber-rich diet has been proven to: lower your risk of developing cardiovascular disease; lower your body weight; help with blood sugar control, and; improve bowel regularity.
Whew! Who knew that feeding your gut could aid in preventing diseases? Let's take a deeper look into what fiber is, and how it is able to benefit your health.
Fiber fights diseases
Fiber is the indigestible part of plant foods and
only in foods of plant origin. (Think of whole fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and whole grains.) The fiber you eat is food for the many bacteria that live in your gut. When the bacteria are starved of fiber, your gut may become more susceptible to disease. Recent studies suggest that imbalances in gut bacteria may contribute to obesity, cancer, and inflammatory bowel disease.
The many health benefits of fiber are from eating the whole foods rather than supplements or pills. Fiber works by absorbing many times its weight in water. Drink plenty of water to keep your waste moving smoothly.
How much should I eat?
Women should have at least 25 grams per day and men should have at least 38 grams per day. Most Americans fall short on this nutrient, averaging only 15 grams per day. On the Nutrition Facts label, look for the amount in grams under "Total Carbohydrate". If you are using a tracking program to record the foods you eat (e.g. MyNetDiary), pay attention to your daily fiber intake. Aim to meet and exceed the recommended amounts for better health!
It is important to increase the amount of fiber you eat gradually to avoid gas and bloating.
If you suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), increasing certain foods with fiber may cause an increase in your symptoms. A registered dietitian can work with you to figure out which high fiber foods may be triggers for you. Call 303-614-1070 (TTY 711) to make an appointment.