We hear it often that we should eat more of them, that they can be found in a variety of sources, but why exactly do we need them? In what forms are they available? What contains them?
The next few paragraphs will provide the answer to our questions.
What are the dietary fibers?
Dietary fibers are indigestible complex carbohydrates that are resistant to the body’s digestive enzymes, so they pass through our system unchanged without being absorbed therefore they supply no nutrients or calories.
Fibers can be found in walls of plant cells: vegetables, fruits, cereals (whole grains) and legumes (beans).
There are two kinds of fiber: fibers that dissolve in water (and form gels) and fibers that do not dissolve in water (and pass through the body unchanged.) Plant based foods usually contain a mixture of both soluble and insoluble fibers in different quantities however.
In cereals, seeds and fruit skins mostly the insoluble fiber is present, while fruit pulp, vegetables and oats contain the water soluble fiber in majority.
What is the recommended daily intake?
For adults it’s suggested to consume 30-40 grams a day, while the recommendation for children is 20-25 grams.
What are they good for?
Fibers increase satiety (the feeling of fullness) – as fibers hold on to moisture, they swell and so as they pass through the intestines they:
- Help us prevent constipation, provided that we drink enough fluids of course. It is very important - particularly after surgeries - to make sure that the fresh wounds are not harmed/do not open up as a result of difficulties/struggle passing stool. But it is also a very important rule to take into consideration/bear in mind after eye surgery: as a result of the operation, struggling on the loo might have a negative impact on the affected organ/eye.
- The fibers that pass though the digestive enzymes are perfect source for the friendly bacteria in the bowels, who – in exchange – produce fatty acids that nurture the wall of the colon.
- So to sum it up, these little fibers reduce the risk of: colon cancer, hemorrhoids and diverticulosis.
- They slow down the digestion and absorbtion of sugars.
- As they lower cholesterol lewels, they help to prevent cardiovascular diseases.
- They play an important role in weightloss and preventing weight gain/getting overweights as they cause satiety and slow down the absorbtion of sugars.
List of foods high in dietary fibre:
- Wheat bran, oat bran, wholegrain flours, oat flakes
- Psyllium husk, flax seeds, chia seeds, sesame seeds, almonds
- Peas, corn, beans, turnips
- Peach, blueberries, quince
A few suggestions:
Try to eat as much fruits and vegetables as possible. Add veggies to your meals, mix fruits in your desserts and (replace) your munchies. Try not to peel them if you can. Choose wholegrain breads and rolls at the bakery and in your pasta selections.
And don’t forget to drink water!