Fiber is an essential part of an overall healthy diet. To start, it supports your gastrointestinal health. But what’s more, as researchers have discovered how much the GI tract actually influences other processes in your body, they’ve realized that fiber has the ability to improve your overall health through its GI effects.
At Integrative Medica, located in Salt Lake City, Utah, our naturopathic doctors, Jake Schmutz, NMD, and Joshua Hersh, NMD, provide nutritional counseling and IV therapy to our patients to help them live healthier lives. One recommendation we make is to eat a high-fiber diet. Here’s why.
Fiber is the structural part of fruits, vegetables, and grains that our bodies can’t digest or otherwise break down. Fiber is divided into two types — soluble and insoluble.
When soluble fiber dissolves, it creates a gel that may reduce blood cholesterol and blood sugar levels. These help your circulatory system function and reduce your risk for developing diabetes, respectively. Foods that contain soluble fiber include dried beans, barley, oats, potatoes, bananas, and the soft parts of apples and pears.
Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, is a “bulking” agent, often called “roughage.” It attracts water into your stool, making it softer and easier to pass, thereby promoting bowel health and regularity. It also helps manage insulin sensitivity, again reducing your risk for diabetes. Foods that contain insoluble fiber include whole grain products and whole bran, nuts, carrots, corn, grapes, berries, and the peels of apples and pears.
Eating whole foods, like those mentioned above, is always preferable to taking fiber supplements like Metamucil and Citrucel, since the latter doesn't provide the variety of fibers that whole foods do, nor the vitamins, minerals and other beneficial nutrients found in food.
You can also add more fiber to your diet by consuming foods such as cereal, granola bars, yogurt, and ice cream that come with fiber added. You’ll usually find the added fiber labeled as "inulin" or "chicory root."
Some people complain they get gassy after eating foods with added fiber, and that’s because adding too much fiber too quickly can cause intestinal gas, abdominal bloating, and cramping. Instead, increase your fiber intake gradually over a few weeks. This allows the bacteria in your digestive system to adjust to the change. Make sure, too, that you drink plenty of water when you’re adding fiber, as fiber works most effectively when it can absorb water.
Research has shown that a fiber-rich diet is associated with a number of health benefits, including these five:
The Institute of Medicine provides science-based advice for the medical and health industries. It recommends the following daily fiber consumption for adults:
Men age 50 or younger 38 grams
Men age 51 or older 30 grams
Women age 50 or younger 25 grams
Women age 51 or older 21 grams
Here at Integrative Medica, we offer services to help you benefit from a fiber-rich diet. The first is providing diet and nutritional counseling services. These services support a nutritious diet, daily exercise regimen, and overall healthy lifestyle choices, reducing your risk for chronic disease and enhancing your overall quality of life.
The second is our IV vitamin therapy. This therapy provides the water necessary for insoluble fiber to bulk up and soften stool, keeping you regular, as well as providing other essential vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes to ensure you’re meeting all your nutritional needs.
If you want to learn more about the benefits of fiber-rich foods, or you’d like to take advantage of our IV therapy, give us a call to schedule a consultation, or book online with us today.