These days it seems like we’re in a state of fiber frenzy. There are tons of supplements and additives designed to help you get more fiber in your system. But what exactly does fiber do for you? Your favorite caveman is here to answer all of your fiber-related questions!
The first thing that you have to know about fiber is that there are actually two different types – soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber (meaning that it partially dissolves in water) is found in foods like beans, lentils, nuts, apples, pears, strawberries, and blueberries. Insoluble fiber on the other hand cannot be dissolved in water and resists digestion. You can find insoluble fiber in foods like carrots, whole grains, green beans, nuts, grapes, and tomatoes. Taking in a good mix of both kinds of fiber can help you lower your cholesterol, regulate blood sugar, lower your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, prevent constipation, and reduce the risk of diverticular disease. Studies show that people who consume a balanced diet that’s high in fiber are less of a risk for obesity.
So how exactly does a fiber diet reduce obesity risks? Not only are fiber-rich foods typically good for you and low, calorie, but because the human body isn’t able to fully break down fiber, it leaves the body pretty much in the same form it entered. While fiber winds its way through your digestive tract, it grabs fats and carries them through the colon to be expelled from the body. That’s not to say that eating an apple will cancel out the double chocolate cheesecake you had earlier, but including more fiber rich foods in your diet can only be good for your waistline.
So how much fiber should you be consuming? Since the amount of fiber you need is directly proportional to the number of calories you consume, there’s no fixed number. The USDA recommends 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories consumed. A person eating 2,000 calories should aim to take in 28 grams of fiber. This isn’t that hard to do so long as you’re smart about it. If you switch from white bread to wheat bread or white rice to brown rice, you’ll be getting more fiber instantly. You could easily meet your fiber requirements by eating oatmeal or whole-grain cereal with a banana for breakfast, snacking on strawberries or carrots throughout the day, and including beans or lentils in your dinner. Fiber bars are also a great way to grab some quick fiber on the go.
While fiber bars are a good idea, taking a fiber supplement may not be. While there are a number of extracted fiber products on the market today – including tablets and powders that you can drink mixed with water – most health care professionals would advise skipping on the supplement and eating a nice pear or a handful of almonds instead. Natural fiber from natural foods is the best way to go when it comes to satisfying your fiber requirement. Since fiber-ful foods are so good for you and taste great too, paying more attention to your fiber intake is also a great way to improve the overall quality of your diet. When you take a fiber supplement, you’re only getting the benefit of the fiber. When you eat a food that’s rich in fiber, you get vitamins, minerals, and disease-fighting phytochemicals on top of your fiber. If you’re trying to build up a body that’s caveman strong, be sure to include some fiber in your diet!