I realize I (and many others in the health/wellness field) talk about fiber a lot, usually in general terms. We say things like “fiber is important for weight loss/maintenance because it helps keep you full” and “fiber helps you stay regular”.Supplements like Metamucil and benefiber and food brands like Fiber One capitalize on the health effects of fiber (although as a side note I wouldnt recommend Fiber One bars be your main source of it). But fiber can be a little more complex than that.
The Two Types of FIber
There are two types of five – soluble and insoluble.
- Soluble fiber – this type of fiber that slows digestion and may help lower cholesterol. Soluble fiber attracts water and becomes a gel during digestion. You can find it in oat bran, barley, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, peas, and some fruits and vegetables, fiber supplements.
- Insoluble fiber – this type of fiber adds bulk to stool and helps move it through the digestive system. Insoluble fiber also attracts water, and is the fiber that “keeps you regular”. People who are constipated would benefit from more insoluble fiber. You can get insoluble fiber from wheat bran, vegetables, and whole grain.
How Much Do You Need?
The recommended in take is 38 grams for men under 50 and 25 grams for women under 50. Men and women over 50 need 30 and 21 grams respectively.
If you’re eating a healthful diet high in fruits and vegetables and mostly whole grains over white grains, you are likely getting enough fiber. For example, eating a banana (3 g), 2 cups of broccoli (5 g), 1 sweet potato (5 g), an apple (4 g), oatmeal with dried fruit (6 g), and an ounce of almonds (3 g) in a day, you’d exceed the recommendations for women.