How Do We Get Enough Fiber?!

Fiber. We all need it… and most of us don’t get enough of it.

But what is fiber exactly?

Well, the dictionary gives two different definitions in regards to nutrition:
the structural part of plants and plant products that consists of carbohydrates, as cellulose and pectin, that are wholly or partially indigestible and when eaten stimulate peristalsis in the intestine
food containing a high amount of such carbohydrates, as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
So, there are plenty of foods that are high in fiber, and we probably eat some of them some of the time:

And we need fiber, lots of it. The US Department of Agriculture recommends 25 grams of fiber for women daily and 30 grams for men.

When we don’t get enough fiber, we often look to fiber supplements or fortified foods to fill the gap in our nutritional needs. More research is needed to determine if fiber supplements and fortified foods provide the same health benefits as regular food.
Whole foods offer three main supplements over dietary supplements: greater nutrition, essential fiber, protective substances. - Dietary Guidelines for Americans
But there are certain conditions where fiber supplements may be necessary:

  • individuals eating less than 1,600 calories a day
  • vegan or vegetarian with limited food choices
  • females experiencing heavy bleeding during monthly menstruation
  • individuals with medical conditions that affect how the body absorbs and uses nutrients
  • individuals who have had surgery in the digestive tract causing the body to not digest or absorb nutrients properly
  • individuals who have trouble obtaining two to three servings of fish a week.

Fiber is also categorized as soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber absorbs water and slows digestion and is often used in weight management programs to help you feel fuller longer. Insoluble fiber focuses more on moving waste through the digestive and  excretory systems. Foods and fiber supplements generally have a combination of soluble and insoluble fibers in various ratios.
Fiber supplements come in capsules, powders, and chewable tablets. While fiber will slow your digestion, it is still important to drink plenty of water and to observe how your fiber supplements interact with any medications you may be taking.

While fiber supplements don’t make up for poor eating habits, they can help many of us get our minimum fiber requirements, manage some health conditions and lead us to healthier eating lifestyles.

The experts at Metabolic Medical Center can assist you with determining if and which fiber supplements may be appropriate for your eating habits.

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