Fiber-rich foods include legumes, produce, grains, nuts and seeds. A daily intake of 25 grams is adequate, but minimal. There are no health organizations or regulations putting limits on higher amounts. This is good because more fiber has not been shown to impact health negatively in healthy people. Just be sure your fiber sources are whole, natural foods.
The best fiber-rich food sources for most U.S. eaters, will be plant foods (and fungi, like mushrooms).
In the body, fiber still looks and acts like fiber all the way through the digestive tract, until it reaches the large intestine. Only the large intestine impacts fiber dramatically, not enzymes or digestive fluids. Fiber is broken down by the trillions of bacteria living in our gut.
Consider the list of benefits offered from healthy fiber intake:
Optimal Food Passage Through the Digestive Tract
- Insoluble fiber plays a key role in moving food through our bodies, because it can attract water that helps control the consistency of food in our digestive tract (aka “regularity”).
- Viscous soluble fiber also helps, controlling the density food as it is digested, pacing food passage from stomach to small intestine (aka “gastric emptying”).
Cardiovascular Cholesterol Benefits
- Fiber-rich fruits and vegetables create cholesterol-lowering effects via soluble fiber.
- Blood pressure reduction and risk of cardiovascular disease is associated with fiber intake.
Stabilization of Blood Sugar
- Fiber-rich meals can help most of us regulate our blood sugars in a healthier way, for long periods.
- Benefits of fiber come from the special ability of soluble, viscous fiber to impart a slow release of food from the stomach (called gastric emptying).
Maintenance of Colon Health
- Fiber is the fuel for “friendly” bacteria growth. There is a mutual benefit between dietary fiber and gut bacteria that keeps the colon healthy and balanced.
- As food fiber is digested in the large intestine, their metabolism provides cells forming the colon lining “fuel” to perform properly.
- Fiber intake is also connected to decreased risk of colon cancer.
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