March 24, 2022

FIBER – The Digestive System's Power House

Oghuan Unuigbe

Dietary fiber is the part of plant material that is made up of mostly indigestible parts and pass through the digestive system without being changed, present in wholegrain cereals and fruit and vegetables, this is why whole plant food are perfect and recommended for consumption.

Fiber is mainly a carbohydrate and its major role in the digestive system is to ensure that the GUT remains healthy. Dietary fiber can also be called ‘bulk’ and ‘roughage’, which can be misleading since some forms of fiber are water-soluble and aren’t bulky or rough at all.

Recent research shows that consuming an adequate amount of fiber per meal, may benefit your digestion and reduce the risk of chronic disease. It should however be noted that not all fiber are created the same, they have different health effects.

There are two types of fiber; Soluble fiber and Insoluble fiber

Soluble fiber - dissolves in water and forms a gel-like substance, research shows that ithelps in lowering glucose levels as well as in lowering blood cholesterol. Some foods in this category include; oatmeal, nuts, beans, lentils, apples and blueberries.

Insoluble fiber - does not dissolve in water, can help food move through the digestive system, promoting regularity and helping in the prevention of constipation. Some foods with insoluble fibers include; wheat, whole wheat bread, brown rice, legumes, carrots, cucumbers and tomatoes.

How much fibre do we need?

Many adults today, do not consume enough fibre, so it is good to know how much fiber is required daily.

The recommended daily fiber intake:

men = 30g of fibre each day

women = 25g of fibre each day.

Recommended daily fibre intake for children

Children (4 to 8 years) = 18g

Girls (9 to 13 years) = 20g

Girls (14 to 18 years) = 22g

Boys (9 to 13 years) = 24g

Boys (14 to 18 years) = 28g.

What are some benefits of fibre intake

1. Aid bowel movement

2. Manage and avoid elevated cholesterol levels

3. Better GUT health

4. Reduces risk of diabetes

5. Reduces risk of certain heart conditions

6. Might reduce the risk of certain cancers (colorectal cancer)

7. In maintaining a healthy BMI

8. Prevent and manage diverticular disease

Some tips for increasing fibre intake

1. Eat whole fruits instead of drinking fruit juices.

2. Include vegetables (in sauces or salad) to white rice, bread, yam, plantain, potato, pasta etc.

3. For breakfast, choose cereals that have a whole grain as their first ingredient OR include fruits in all breakfast meals.

4. Snack on raw vegetables/ fruits, instead of chips, crackers, or chocolate bars

Click here to download our FREE 1-week meal plan containing the right blend of daily fibre intake

Oghuan Unuigbe

Article reviewed and approved by Dr. Didi Emokpare
Content provided in partnership with Radiant Health Magazine

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