The importance of, and differences between fibers

We cannot live well without adding fiber to our diet on a daily basis. Why? Because fiber is meant to clean our intestines ……it is our body’s internal broom! However, it is important to note that there are different types of fiber. Adding the right type of fiber can help manage your bowels properly so that you can avoid problems such as irritable bowel and diverticulitis. Fiber helps to lower cholesterol and stabilize blood sugar. It also helps to prevent constipation and hemorrhoids and can assist in weight loss as it does suppress appetite.

Types of fiber

Fiber is not found in meat. It is only found in foods such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes. Fiber makes up the component of plant cell walls.

There are two basic categories of dietary fiber: soluble and insoluble. They are both needed in the diet as they have different health effects.

Most of the fiber in plant cell walls is water-soluble. This fiber promotes regular bowel movements and aids in weight loss by slowing down the passage of food, which gives you that full feeling. Foods that have been processed, such as canned vegetables, fruits, instant rice, and CEREALS - (yes, even boxed cereals that claim they have added fiber), have actually been stripped of fiber. Raw fruits and vegetables are the way to go. They are filling, prevent over-eating, and they have the nutrients and enzymes that are so vital to your health. Raw foods are naturally high in fiber and satisfy your hunger. Soluble fiber also helps to lower elevated cholesterol and remove fat from the gastrointestinal tract. The best sources of soluble fiber, in my opinion, are fruits and vegetables. Although barley, beans, peas, and lentils are good sources of soluble fiber, they are much harder to digest.

Insoluble fiber (roughage) are the plant cell walls that do not dissolve in water. This fiber does not break down during digestion and even though it does not dissolve in water, it can bind water just like a sponge. The most important reason to consume moderate amounts of soluble fiber is that the absorption causes bowel movements to be softer and to have greater bulk. This helps to ease and regulate movement through the intestines. Food sources of insoluble fiber include whole grains, nuts, vegetables, and fruits.

The best way to get more fiber from your food is to increase your intake of raw foods. Eating the skin and membranes of fruits and vegetables ensures that you get every bit of fiber. Cooking can reduce the fiber content so try to steam lightly.

Fruit fiber is the easiest fiber for our GI tract to handle. Vegetables are harder for people to digest. I see many clients in my practice that are diagnosed with irritable bowel and suffer with nagging constipation. I find that adding organic psyllium husk (soluble fiber) to their diet helps to ensure that that they get the adequate fiber required to avoid these symptoms.

An apple a day is an easy way to get 3.6 grams of fiber into your day and also helps with bowel function. It is easy and tasty ……. best to eat whole with skin on!

Frances Michaelson

A pioneer in the fitness industry, Frances opened the first personal training center in the West Island of Montreal in 2001. In 2008 , Frances had the “gut feeling“ that there was more to learn about health and how our bodies function, which led to further her education in the field of Naturopathy and holistic nutrition. She has since authored two books. Her latest book, "Do you Have the Guts to be Healthy" was published in March 2021. As a trainer and naturopath, she truly loves seeing people transform themselves by trusting their bodies instead of getting caught up in the medical system. Practicing health is the only way to live the gift of life well!

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