Most people don’t get nearly the amount of fiber their bodies need.
Fiber is one of those things that most people don’t normally think about in their every day lives. The CDC recommends that women get about 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 consumed calories, which adds up to about 26 grams of fiber per day. Unfortunately, most people average only about 15 grams a day, which is alarmingly low.
The two types of fiber are soluble, which dissolves in water and becomes gel-like in the gut. This type of fiber is found in beans, oats, apples, carrots, and barley. The second type is insoluble, which doesn’t dissolve and helps move food and waste through the digestive system. Insoluble fiber can be found in whole-wheat fiber, nuts, wheat bran, green beans, and other vegetables.
Obviously fiber is very important for our digestive systems, and it can also reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, hypertension, stroke, gastrointestinal disorders, obesity, and diabetes. This is especially important for women, for the following reasons.
Fiber helps women maintain a healthy weight. As we all know, there is good bacteria and bad bacteria in our gut. Maintaining this balance is tantamount to keeping a healthy weight, and soluble fiber can help with this balance.
Fiber may help women avoid osteoporosis, because it helps the body absorb calcium. Over the age of 35 our bones gradually start to break down, a process that can eventually lead to brittle bones and osteoporosis in women. We can fight this by consuming more dietary calcium, but studies show that without enough fiber in the diet, the body has a harder time absorbing the calcium it needs.
Fiber helps with constipation. In a study conducted in 2009, researchers found that out of 518 patients, women experienced more frequent constipation than men. Women are also more likely to suffer from (IBS) irritable bowel syndrome, the symptoms of which can also be improved by soluble fiber.
Lastly, and perhaps most obviously, fiber can help with heart disease. Fiber can lower cholesterol, help maintain normal blood sugar levels, reduce inflammation, and help maintain weight, all of which can help keep your heart healthy.
You can tell if your body needs more fiber by your bowel movements. If you suffer from constipation, have hard or dry stools, or have bowel movements less than three times a week, you probably need more fiber.
A few ways to add fiber to your diet are to read food labels, eat more fruits, veggies, and whole grains, shop for high-fiber cereals or whole-wheat breads, and avoid refined or processed foods. Beans are also a great source of fiber, such as black beans, kidney beans, and lima beans.