Welcome back! Last week, we finished an article series that discussed the health benefits of whole grains. A large part of that topic revolved around fiber and, if you’re like me, you probably really don’t know much about dietary fiber and why it is so important for our overall general health. Well, since inquiring minds simply must know, I did some research and what I learned I want to share with you. This is what I found out about fiber.
Familiar terms we all know
Most people have heard the terms “soluble” and “insoluble” when fiber is mentioned. The term “soluble” refers to fibers that bind with fatty acids and slow down the digestive process. This helps to slow down the release of blood sugar into the blood stream and help to lower LDL levels, cholesterol and help to manage blood sugar levels especially for people with diabetes. The “insoluble” form helps to hydrate the intestines and aid in moving the waste products produced by the digestive process and other processes in the body through the intestines, preventing constipation to “keep you regular”. Insoluble fiber also helps to control the pH levels in our intestines.
How to get the fiber
Most of us get both types of these fibers in two ways: diet and added “functional” fiber. The fiber found in our diets essentially comes naturally from fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains that we consume on a daily basis. “Functional” fiber is created from fiber that has been isolated and extracted from plants or animal sources, enabling it to be added to drinks or foods in an attempt to increase their fiber content. Functional fiber seems to a growing trend in the food industry at this time.
Which way is recommended?
I have read many articles and dietary food plans that stress eating lots of fresh fruits and veggies, but I wondered which way was the best for ensuring the consumption of the appropriate amount of fiber. Further research has revealed that most nutritionists stress getting the fiber from whole foods instead of adding the functional fiber to food and drinks. They recommend this because by eating the whole food, we are able to absorb the many other healthy compounds in those whole foods which aren’t present in the functional form of fiber. The statistics show that the average American typically gets about 15 grams of fiber daily when the recommended amounts are 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men aged 50 years and younger! The nutritionists agree that, if you can’t get the appropriate amount of fiber in your daily diet, then you can fill the gap with the functional type.
I found eight different types of soluble and insoluble fiber in my research. Next time, we will conclude this topic with a brief discussion of those types of fiber and how they help. In the meantime, keep up with those regular and routine dental checkups with your Long Island Periodontist. Contact us to schedule an appointment today!