Fiber: The Importance of Fiber

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A diet high in fiber is important for overall health. Why? Foods containing fiber slow carbohydrate digestion, minimizing surges in blood glucose. As discussed in the CARBOHYDRATES article, simple carbohydrates are digested quickly by the body and cause blood sugar levels to rapidly rise and then rapidly fall, progressively harming the body over time. Excessive consumption of simple, refined carbohydrates can lead to diabetes and excessive body fat.

The blood glucose surge caused by eating simple, refined carbs stimulates overproduction of insulin by the pancreas and accelerates fat synthesis. Consistently eating foods with excess simple, refined carbohydrates eventually reduces the body’s sensitivity to and ability to produce insulin causing diabetes and weight gain. Fiber consumption helps the body maintain stable blood glucose levels. Consequently, high intake is associated with a lower risk of obesity, diabetes, and digestive disorders. Always look for foods with more fiber and less sugar.


What Is Fiber and Why Is It So Beneficial?

Fiber is a material that cannot be digested in the digestive tract of humans. It occurs exclusively in plants, as it makes up the structure of leaves, stems, roots, seeds, and fruit coverings. There are two types: soluble and insoluble fiber, referring to whether or not the fiber dissolves in water. Although the different types perform distinct functions within the human digestive system, they both serve to improve gastrointestinal function and prevent constipation. It is through these functions that fiber, as part of a balanced diet, helps to thwart weight gain and improve overall health.


Fiber Intake Recommendations

Most Americans typically consume about 12 to 15 grams of fiber per day, far short of the recommended values. The Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sciences recommends at least 38 grams per day for men younger than 50 and at least 30 grams per day for men older than 50. Diets high in fruits, vegetables, and whole-grains provide ample quantities of daily dietary fiber.

Fiber Intake Recommendations

Men Under 50 38 grams
Men Over 50 30 grams

EMG’s Nutrition Homepage: How to Eat Healthy