What the F is Fiber?

Hey guys! I hope your weekends went well and were not filled with cramming five days worth of work into 3 like mine. I do hope you got to have some fun this weekend, like going on a ferry ride, seeing an owl, or sighting and talking to some celebrities (I did one of those things, and it was awesome).

Today’s Elf 4 Health challenge was to eat 25 – 30g of fiber. I have to admit to being a little bit overwhelmed. I know NOTHING about fiber. When I look at a calorie content box I look at the fat content, the sodium content and the overall calories and serving size.

Nutrition-Label

My knowledge on fiber extends to the fact that Sheldon Cooper organizes his cereals by the amount of fiber in them. (Side note: I love the Big Bang Theory, and this week’s episode was beyond hilarious).

So, I decided to help out my elvish friends (and anyone else who doesn’t know a lot about fiber) and get down to research.

Remember, I am not a doctor or nutritionist or in any way qualified to give out this information. I did however, compile this based on my own curiosity and encourage you to research more about fiber as well!

What is Fiber?

According to the very unhelpful dictionary, fiber is “a thread or filament formed from a vegetable tissue, mineral substance, or textile” or “a substance formed of such threads and filaments”

Well thanks for nothing Webster.

This website and its blog post titled “Decoding the Nutrition Facts Label” was much more helpful. Here is an excerpt from their post.

Dietary Fiber: There are two types of fiber, insoluble fiber (bulk) which can help keep your bowels regular and soluble fiber which can help reduce your cholesterol. Fiber is also filling and can help you feel full longer. Aim for 20-30 grams of dietary fiber per day.

Hands up if you didn’t even know there was more than one type of fiber (mine shot into the air, as this song popped into my head)

I wonder how much fiber Miley Cyrus gets.

Fiber can also be called roughage — which is apparently the part of plant foods we can’t digest and therefore pushes through our digestive system, absorbing water and making it easier to poop.

Insoluble and Soluble Fiber

There are two types of dietary fiber, and both are virtually indigestible.

Soluble fiber changes as it goes through the digestive tract, where it is fermented by bacteria. Soluble fiber absorbs water, and as it does so becomes gelatinous. Soluble fiber reduces cholesterol levels (and is apparently especially helpful in reducing bad cholesterol), and it can also help regulate sugar intake.

Insoluble fiber goes through the digestive tract without changing its forms. It prevents constipation, helps keep an optimal Ph level in the intestines which helps prevent microbes living there from producing substances that can lead to colorectal cancer, and it speeds up the elimination of toxic waste.

Sounds like both of these are things I should be eating!

Why do we need Fiber?

Eating fiber increases the immune system in your gut, feeds the good probiotic bacteria there, keeps the digestive lining healthy and absorbs and pulls out excess hormones, cholesterol, fat and toxins from the body.

Fun Fiber Facts

1. Only plants produce fiber. Those sinewy, chewy parts of meat do not represent fiber

2. Apparently, fiber was only really recognized as important as of the 1970’s. Since fiber helps people limit calorie intake and obesity is a problem in today’s Western society it gained in importance when a naval doctor (I thought this meant bellybutton doctor, then realized that it meant a doctor from the navy) and his buddy were talking about how Western diseases were limited in places where fiber intake was high.

3. We consume 10% of the fiber now that we did 100 years ago.

4. Bran has the highest fiber content

Fibre for Thought

So what foods contain fiber? Should we be concerned about what type of fiber we are eating or how much total we are getting? We know its good for us, now put it in my tummy!

Most foods that have fiber in them, have both insoluble and soluble fibers. So you should concern yourself with getting fiber at all, not necessarily the right ratio of soluble to insoluble.

Best sources of insoluble fiber:

  • Vegetables – especially dark green leafy ones
  • Root vegetable skins
  • Fruit skins
  • Whole wheat products, wheat bran
  • Corn bran
  • Nuts and seeds

Best sources of soluble fiber:

  • Kidney beans
  • Pinto beans
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Broccoli
  • Spinach
  • Zucchini
  • Fruits (raw)
  • Apple
  • Orange
  • Grapefruit
  • Grapes
  • Prunes
  • Grains Oatmeal
  • Whole-wheat bread

If you’re like me, and have some allergies, here is a list of higher fiber foods that are unlikely to be allergenics.

  • Apple
  • Pear
  • Melon (fresh)
  • Carrots
  • Potato
  • Swede
  • Broccoli
  • Green beans
  • Pumpkin
  • Zucchini (courgette)

My Thoughts

I’m wondering if fiber is a reason for some of my GI problems I’ve had over the years. I definitely do not get enough! What about you guys? Did you learn anything about fiber? I’m going to make sure I get more in my diet from now on!

Sources

This Medical News Today Article

This EHealth MD Article

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10 responses to “What the F is Fiber?

  1. Interesting. Starting to wonder whether I get enough fiber too. Must pay more attention. Thanks!

  2. I am vegetarian, so my diet is definitely high fiber. I think I learn something today. Great lesson on fiber. 🙂

  3. I just learned all about fiber, I failed miserably on this mission! Thanks for all the information.

  4. Very interesting. I had NO idea. I definitely need more fiber in my diet.

  5. Yeah – it definitely helped me to add more in! But not right before a run 😉

    I love that you thought of Miley. Random confession – I LOVE that song (I’m going to hide now so our man friends don’t kill me).

  6. I definitely get a decent amount of fiber. I eat a lot of beans and veggies in my diet. One component of increasing fiber that often is forgotten about: INCREASE WATER INTAKE too! Your stomachs will thank you. 🙂

  7. Pingback: Fibre-ific Food « FastFoodMom (FFMs)

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