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Fiber Facts

Por Eleazar Lara-Pantin, MD, MSc.* -
Fiber Facts

"Eat more fiber!" I know you’ve heard that statement before, but do you know how much fiber you should consume?

A couple of years ago, scientists found an important link between fiber consumption and health. Since then, fiber has become a topic of conversation for many health enthusiasts. Various scientific studies carried out in different parts of the world show that people with fiber-rich diets have a lower incidence of certain diseases. However, the commercial interest generated by these findings has led to distorted truths.
Media outlets have heavily promoted fiber, leading the public to believe that the more they consume, the more benefits they’ll receive. But this is not true. Too much of anything can cause trouble.

Everything in moderation

In moderation, fiber can play a healthy role in your diet. Fiber fills empty space in your intestines causing you to feel less hungry. As long as you drink enough water during the day, it also helps make some digestive functions easier.

Fiber can also eliminate:

  • Excess food substances.
  • Substances that may cause you harm if they remain in your intestines too long.
  • Excess fat in your intestines.
  • Harmful substances known as carcinogens (which can promote the production and growth of malignant tumors in the digestive tract if they stay in contact with the intestinal wall for too long).

Fiber can benefit your body in many ways. It contributes to the prevention of heart disease and intestinal cancer, among other diseases.

The fiber fib

If you believe the publicity that promotes excessive consumption of fiber, you’ll miss out on fiber’s benefits. The gasses produced by the large amounts of fiber fermenting in your intestines will cause you to feel full and bloated. You could also lose important amounts of essential minerals and vitamins because fiber pushes them out of your system before your body can absorb them. This is particularly serious for people who cut down their intake of vitamins and minerals every time they go on a trendy, weight-loss diet. Unfortunately, the same drive that leads people to go on poorly-planned diets also leads them to consume excessive amounts of fiber.

Types of fiber

People discuss the advantages of eating particular types of fiber. They say soluble fiber will help rid your body of fat, and insoluble fiber will help boost bowel movements. So, they’re under the misconception that they must eat a particular kind of fiber to treat a particular kind of problem. But in reality, you don’t need to worry about selecting the right kind of fiber because most fiber-rich foods contain both types.

Conclusion

The benefits of fiber are many. For this reason, the Food Guides of all countries agree in promoting foods rich in fiber. Only people who don’t consume sufficient fiber-rich vegetables should consider including additional products with high-fiber content into their diets. Furthermore, experts should handle the use of fiber to treat certain type of diseases on a case-by-case basis.

*Dr. Lara-Pantin, a nutrition specialist, is Vice President of Product Development for DrTango, Inc.

 

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