The Importance of Fiber:
As fiber, which is also called roughage or bulk, moves through the intestine undigested, it absorbs large amounts of water. This results in softer, bulkier stools, which reduce the pressure against the wall of the colon, easing the passage of waste. There are many health benefits from eating a high fiber diet:
*Better absorption of calcium, which leads to stronger bones.
*Better immunity, which may reduce infections.
*Lower rate of obesity.
*Better control of blood sugar.
*More ‘good’ colon bacteria.
*Fewer ‘bad’ colon bacteria.
*More regular bowel movements.
*Fewer toxins in the blood.
How much is enough?
Most Americans only eat 10 to 15 grams of fiber each day but he recommended amounts are much higher:
Recommended Fibers-Grams Per Day
Men: 38 grams (under age 50) and 30 grams (over age fifty)
Women: 25 grams (under age 50) and 21 grams (over age fifty)
The rural African diet, in contrast, is very rich in plant fiber (over 50 grams each day). This speeds up the time required to digest food and expel wastes. Rural Africans digest and eliminate the foods they eat in one-third the time it takes people who live in Western cultures. This may be why they suffer from fewer intestinal diseases than Westerns.
Fiber and Diverticulosis:
Colon diverticulosis occurs when pockets of tissue bulge out from the bowel wall. These pockets are called Diverticuli and they occur gradually over time, due to increased pressure within the bowel. Diverticuli usually cause no problems but sometimes they become infected (diverticulitis) or even break open, causing an abscess (infection) within the abdomen. A high-fiber diet reduces pressure in the colon by increasing the bulk of the stool. This may reduce or even stop the development of diverticulosis or its complications.
Fiber and Heart Disease:
One of the benefits of soluble fiber is that it can lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood. This is especially true of oat fiber and the supplement called psyllium. Lower cholesterol levels may help prevent some types of heart disease.
Fiber and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
IBS is one of the most common of the lower digestive system. Recent studies suggest that patients with IBS have too many unwanted bacteria inside the colon and mild inflammation within the wall of the colon itself.
IBS is not technically a disease but the inflammation and unwanted bacteria cause unpleasant symptoms such as constipation, diarrhea (or both alternately), bloating, abdominal pain and cramps. Acute episodes can be triggered by emotional tension and anxiety poor eating habits and certain medications.
Eating more fiber can help waste pass more quickly and easily through the colon. However, IBS patients need to be careful when adding fiber to their diet. It should be in a slow and step-wise manner. This is because the extra fiber may produce some harmless gases that would cause bloating. If this happens, reduce the amount of fiber and add it back more slowly.
Fibers Content of Foods:
Cereals and Pasta
Fruits and Nuts
High Fiber Diet
The colon, also called the large intestine, starts in the lower right abdomen and forms a large question mark across the abdomen, ending in the rectum. A primary function of the colon is to dehydrate and shape waste (stool) as it moves toward the rectum. The colon is packed with over 2000 different bacteria. Many of these bacteria provide health benefits to the body. The most beneficial bacteria provide health. Having lots of these “good” bacteria can reduce the number of cancer-causing substances in the colon. This is why eating plant foods may help protect colon health.
Sources of Fiber:
Fiber is the name for parts of a plant that the human body cannot digest. Fiber is important for maintaining intestinal health, maintaining healthy weight, reducing cholesterol and controlling blood sugar. There are two types of fiber in our food insoluble and soluble.
The benefit of insoluble fiber is that it absorbs water but does not dissolve in water. Its moves through the intestine mostly intact. This results in a larger, softer stool and more regular bowel movement. Have a large soft stool prevents disorders such as constipation, hemorrhoids and diverticulosis. It may also help sweep certain toxins and carcinogens out of the body help sweep certain toxins and carcinogens out of the body.
Sources of insoluble fiber:
*Corn bran (including popcorn), unflavored and unsweetened
*Nuts and seeds
*Skins from potatoes
*Most green vegetable
*Certain fruits (apples, oranges, bananas, avocados, tomato, kiwi)
Soluble fibers are digested and used as food by the ‘good’ bacteria in the colon. As the bacteria grow, they produce many health benefits for the body. Most plants have soluble fiber but the following have the highest amounts:
*Oats, rye, barley
*Legumes (peas, beans)
*Fruits (berries, plums, apples, bananas and pears)
*Most root vegetables
*Supplements made from the husk of a plant called psyllium.
Prebiotic Soluble Fiber:
Certain soluble fibers called inulin and fructans are the ones that the beneficial colon bacteria like the most. The best sources of prebiotic soluble fibers are:
*Chicory and most root vegetables
*Wheat, rye, barley (small amounts)
Fiber and Cancer:
Prebiotic soluble fiber can reduce levels of cancer-causing substances with the colon. This can help prevent the development of tumors in the colon. There are also other substances in plant food called antioxidants that can help prevent heart disease, eye problems (such as macular degeneration) and some cancers (such as colon and prostate cancer). Eating lots of plant foods which are rich in fiber and antioxidants may therefore help prevent certain diseases.
Fiber and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD):
IBD includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Patients with these conditions often have more ‘bad’ bacteria in the colon that ‘good’ ones and often a less diverse population of bacteria. Adding fiber, especially soluble fiber, may help with the long-term management of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Talk to your doctor about diet and IBD.
Dietary Fiber Supplements:
Most fiber supplements are plant-based, although some (such as Citrucel, MiraFiber and multodextrin) are made from chemicals. Psyllium is a type of soluble fiber that comes in many different forms. Prebiotic fibers such as Fiber Choice and Prebiotin, are effective. Go slowly with supplements to allow the bowel to adjust.
Disclaimer: this information was taken directly from the pamphlet from Meducate by GI Supply. Please check with your doctor when making a big change in your diet.