You’ve heard this before: “Eat fiber-rich food to become healthy”. Whether it was your parents who said it or another commercial that promoted a healthy diet, fiber is one of the nutrients that your body badly needs. So what is it and how much do you need of it?
1. What is Fiber?
There are many kinds of fiber but the fiber being talked about for human consumption is known as “dietary fiber”. Dietary fiber is a nutrient that comes from plants.
It is a type of carbohydrate that the body cannot break down into sugar. Instead, it is consumed and it goes all the way down the intestinal tract while staying intact. However, even if it can’t be broken down into smaller molecules, dietary fiber is able to do a lot of things for the body.
Fiber is often linked to a healthier digestive system. This is because fiber’s primary goal is to speed up the digestion of food from your throat to your intestines.
This means that you will have lesser chances of getting constipation. To add to that, the more fiber your body has, the faster and the bigger the amount of fecal bulk your body can discharge.
2. How Much Fiber Do You Need?
So when a parent or a doctor says that you need to consume more fiber, what does it really mean? According to a 40-year research conducted with the World Health Organization, 25-29 grams of fiber a day is the right amount.
This amount changes depending on your weight and height. Usually, women are recommended to have at least 25 grams while men can consume up to 38 grams of fiber a day.
To be able to understand how much that is, take an avocado. An avocado has around 10 grams of fiber in it. Eating 2 ½ of an avocado then gives you the right amount of fiber you need to live healthier.
But of course, this does not mean that you should take it upon yourself to eat a lot of fruits every day just to reach the daily fiber requirement.
There are other foods that are rich in fiber and if you regularly eat these foods, then you do not have to add more fiber in your diet. These foods are carrots, beets, kidney beans, oats, bananas, and apples.
Fiber-rich foods can also come in snacks like nuts and popcorn. If you will notice, these foods can easily be incorporated to any diet, so slowly adding a vegetable or fruit to your meal will already do the trick.
According to the same research, fiber intake should be done on a regular basis because there are more advantages to long-term fiber consumption than short term.
If you are also planning to add more fiber in your usual diet, do so gradually by adding a fruit with around 5 grams of fiber. Also, you have to pair your fiber intake with water. Since fiber acts like a sponge as it passes your digestive system, water will help smoothen out the passageway for the dietary fiber.
3. The Effects of Too Much Fiber
While stocking up on fiber is a good thing, always remember that too much of a good thing can give bad results. Fiber should be consumed regularly and consistently since this will help your body adjust to having the right amount of fiber every day.
However, it is not recommended that you consume more than your body’s daily needs in order to stock up for the next day. When you overconsume fiber, here are a few symptoms you might get:
- Reduced blood sugar levels
- Abdominal pain
If you notice these symptoms in your body, it’s best to call your doctor right away to get it treated. These symptoms often show that your fiber intake has been more than your body is supposed to have.
There are also other ways to regulate your fiber intake. Most of the time, doctors will recommend just eating the fiber-rich foods like fruits and vegetables.
It is only when you are really fiber-deficient that you should take fiber supplements. Adding more water in your diet should also be a must to help your digestive system cope with the amount of fiber you are consuming.