Fiber is a word that we have all heard and most of us know that fiber is an important part of overall health. But what is fiber and why is it such a crucial part of an overall healthy diet?
Fiber is defined as roughage which is the portion of plant-derived food that cannot be completely broken down by human digestive enzymes. Dietary fibers are diverse in chemical composition, and can be grouped generally by their solubility, viscosity, and fermentability, which affect how fibers are processed in the body. There are two main types of fiber that are commonly found in food and they serve two very different functions in the body. Insoluble fiber is found in the peel and skins of our fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole wheat products along with other grains. This type of fiber is beneficial to promote regularity and a healthy digestive system, while soluble fiber-think oats, beans, lentils and the inner flesh of fruits and vegetables, can help to reduce cholesterol as well as assist with improving blood glucose levels. Both types are equally important for overall health. So now we know the WHY behind the importance of getting adequate fiber but how much fiber is recommended each day. Per American Heart Association guidelines it is recommended for people to consume between 25-30g per day of total dietary fiber however most Americans only get about half that amount and on average consume about 12 g of fiber per day. Stay tuned for my next post about tips for increasing dietary fiber!