Dietary fibers are one of the most controversial food substances in the market today. The reason is that dietary fibers are found in almost all types of food given off by plants. Dietary fiber, or “roughage” in layman’s terms are the indigestible parts of plants in a man’s digestive system. These fibers absorb excess water in the intestines and help ease defecation. Not all dietary fibers can dissolve in water. Soluble fibers can’t be digested, but they undergo chemical changes when they pass through the digestive tract. Insoluble fibers are the fibers that pass through our body with hardly any change in state.
Dietary fibers contain many types of chemicals. These chemicals are usually complex sugars, specifically polysaccharides without starch. A dietary fiber has cellulose as its main component. Other natural chemicals such as dextrin, inulin, waxes, chitins, inulin, beta-glucans, pectins and oligosaccharides can also be found in dietary fibers. What is quite ironic is that many kinds of dietary fibers are not usually fibers at all.
Men ages 50 and below need at least 38 grams of fiber in their system a day. Women need a lower fiber intake of only at least 25 grams of fiber in their meals a day. The more fiber there is in a person’s diet won’t definitely hurt. If you want to know what fiber can actually do to you, here are some facts on how to get more dietary fiber in your diet:
- Try eating at least 2 and a half cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruits a day. Examples of foods rich in fiber include artichokes, prunes, green peas, pears, oranges, spinach, apples, sweet potatoes, berries (such as raspberries), figs and dates.
- Eat whole-grain breads and cereals rather than normal white table bread to increase the fiber intake in your diet. For those who eat rice, especially Asians, brown rice is way better than white rice because it has more fiber content. Other whole-grain products with high fiber include bran muffins, oatmeal, popcorn, bran, cereals or multiple grain cereals that can be consumed either cooked or dry.
- Check nutrition facts listed on the items you buy at the store. It is a good idea to buy food with at least 5 grams of fiber per serving.
- Adding bran (preferably miller’s bran) to cooked food is another good way to increase fiber intake in your diet. Try adding bran to applesauce, cooked cereals and meat loaf.
- Beans are good sources of fiber. You should eat beans at least once a week. Navy beans, pinto beans, black beans, lima beans, kidney beans and white beans are good choices of fiber rich beans.
Eating fiber can make you feel unwanted changes in the body. If you start eating only fiber rich food you will feel bloated, have gas pains or cramps daily, the key to eating fiber, is moderation. Start eating in a slow manner. Try some of the food listed above, then after a week or so, add another kind to your diet. Drink fluids, because they help absorb the fiber better. Low-calorie to no calorie drinks is also good to help you control your weight too.