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Fiber 101

What is Fiber? Fiber is the indigestible portion of plant foods having two main components: soluble and insoluble.

Soluble Fiber is fiber that is readily fermented in the colon into gases and physiologically active byproducts and

Insoluble Fiber is considered a bulking fiber. These may be metabolically inert and provide bulking in the large intestine. They absorb water as they move through the digestive system, easing defecation. They may promote regularity.

What is Resistant Starch? Resistant starch is considered the third type of fiber. It is starch and starch degradation products that had escaped digestion in the small intestine. It delivers some benefits of both insoluble and soluble fibers. This starch helps feed the healthy bacterial flora.

Why is fiber important? Fiber is found only in plants, such as fruits, vegetables, and grains.

Fiber:

·  Helps keep us “regular” and prevents constipation

·  Might help protect against certain diseases, such as: Diabetes, heart disease, and cancer

·  Seems to play a role in weight loss, probably because high-fiber foods make you feel fuller and they displace higher-calorie foods in the diet

 

High-fiber foods can help in the treatment of:

·  Constipation

·  Hemorrhoids

·  Diverticulitis

·  Irritable bowel syndrome

 

How much fiber do you need each day? 
For children 3−18 years old, add “5” to their age in years. So, for children 7 years old, they need at least 7+5=12 grams (g) of fiber/day.

For adults, needs vary by age and gender:

·  Men, 50 years old and younger=38 g/day

·  Men, 51 years old and older=30 g/day

·  Women, 50 years old and younger= 25 g/day

·  Women, 50 years old and older=21 g/day

 

What else should I know about fiber? 
Increase the amount of fiber in the diet slowly, so you do not develop a crampy, bloated stomach. Make sure to drink plenty of liquids as you increase your fiber intake. Many different forms of fiber exist, so you should eat a variety of high-fiber foods and whole-grain breads and cereals to get all of the benefits.

How can I increase the amount of fiber in my diet?
Here are some high-fiber ideas:

·  Enjoy oatmeal

·  Choose whole-grain breads, pastas, and rice instead of white varieties of the same foods

·
Select high-fiber breakfast cereals—read the Nutrition Facts food labels to find cereals that have at least 5g    dietary fiber/serving

·  Serve high-fiber vegetables, such as:

  Peas
   Corn
   Potatoes
   Broccoli
   Spinach

 

·  Use more dried beans, such as:

  Black beans
   Black-eyed peas
   Pinto beans
   White beans

·  Eat more lentils

·  Follow the table below to chose the most fiber full foods

 

Fiber Content of Selected Foods

Grains Amount Total Fiber (g)
Bran, wheat, dry ¼ cup 6
Spaghetti noodles, whole wheat 1 cup 6
Bulgar, cooked ½ cup 4
Wheat germ, ready-to-eat ¼ cup 4
Pearl barley, cooked ½ cup 3
Cracked wheat, cooked ½ cup 3
Multigrain or granola bread 1 slice 2
Rice, brown, cooked ½ cup 2
Spaghetti noodles 1 cup 2
Bread, whole wheat 1 slice 2
Bread, white 1 slice 1
Legumes and Nuts Amount Total Fiber (g)
Navy beans ½ cup 10
Lentils, cooked ½ cup 8
Lima beans ½ cup 7
Beans, baked ½ cup 7
Kidney beans ½ cup 6
Pigeon peas, cooked ½ cup 6
Green peas, cooked ½ cup 4
Peanuts, dry roasted ¼ cup 3
Walnuts, pieces ¼ cup 2
Filberts, raw 10 nuts 1
Fruits Amount Total Fiber (g)
Pears, fresh 1 large 7
Plums, fresh 5 small 5
Apples, fresh 1 medium 4
Blueberries, fresh 1 cup 4
Strawberries, fresh 1 cup 3
Bananas, fresh 1 medium 3
Naval oranges 1 medium 3
Apricots, fresh 3 fruits 2
Cherries, fresh 10 fruits 2
Deglet noor dates 3 fruits 2
Peaches, fresh 1 medium 2
Plums, dried 3 fruits 2
Raisins, seedless ¼ cup 2
Apricots, dried 5 halves 1
Cantaloupe ¼ medium 1
Grapefruit ½ medium 1
Grapes, seedless, fresh 20 fruits 1
Pineapples, fresh ½ cup 1
Vegetables Amount Total Fiber (g)
Parsnips, cooked ½ cup 3
Potato, baked with skin 1 medium 3
Broccoli, cooked ½ cup 3
Winter squash, cooked ½ cup 3
Carrots, cooked ½ cup 2
Brussels sprouts, cooked ½ cup 2
Spinach, cooked ½ cup 2
String beans, cooked ½ cup 2
Savoy cabbage, cooked ½ cup 2
Corn, cooked ½ cup 2
Sweet potato, cooked ½ medium 2
Turnips, cooked ½ cup 2
Cauliflower, cooked ½ cup 1
Kale, cooked ½ cup 1
Summer squash, cooked ½ cup 1
Tomato, raw 1 medium 1
Zucchini, cooked ½ cup 1

— Source: USDA

For a food-based fiber cocktail, try the following recipe:

1/3 cup unprocessed bran or 2 TBLS whole psyllium husk

1/3 cup applesauce

1/3 cup mashed stewed prunes

Blend all ingredients and store in the refrigerator. Take 1-2 tablespoons of this mixture before bedtime and then be sure to drink 8 oz of water.

Commercially Available Fiber Supplements:

Metamucil  Citrucel    Hydrocil    Fiberall    Konsyl

References and recommended readings

Mayo Clinic. Dietary fiber: essential for a healthy diet. 
Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/fiber/NU00033/METHOD=print .

Medscape Today. : The Health Benefits of Fiber: Dietary Fiber Recommendations. 
Available at: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/540168_2 .

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