By Joy Stephenson-Laws, J.D., Founder

Fiber! Fiber! Fiber!

 

So many people think fiber is only important for having regular bowel movements. But there is much more to fiber than this. Some might even say that this nutrient saves lives.

For example, one Time Magazine article titled Want to Prevent the Deadliest Diseases? Eat More Fiber highlights research which has shown that people who eat more fiber have a lower risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and colon cancer.

The pH Labs team has also made it known that fiber is a critical component of a healthy diet. We’ve discussed how fiber may help with knee pain and even help people who have already been diagnosed with colorectal cancer

And now, one report discussing recent studies suggests that eating more fiber can improve the life expectancy of people with diabetes (both type 1 and type 2).

Let's review exactly what fiber is.

To put it simply, fiber is a type of carbohydrate that the body cannot digest.

(Carbs are one of the six basic nutrients you need to live. The others are protein, water, fats, vitamins and minerals).

There are two types of fiber: insoluble and soluble.

Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water and is the type of fiber that makes you regular and prevents constipation. It helps food move through your digestive system like a broom. 

Soluble fiber is a type of fiber which dissolves in water and swells like a sponge in the stomach, giving food a jellylike bulk. It combines with fat in the intestines and pulls it out of the body before it can enter the bloodstream. It is soluble fiber that may help lower blood cholesterol, slow the absorption of carbohydrates from foods and help stabilize blood sugar levels.

Both types of fiber are readily available to us all in many types of foods, so I was shocked to recently have read that 95 percent of Americans do not get enough of this critical and potentially life-saving nutrient.

“Children and adults need at least 20 to 30 grams of fiber per day for good health, but most Americans get only about 15 grams a day,” according to Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

And the culprit behind this may be due to the fact that so many Americans are eating a diet rich in ultra processed foods, which are stripped of fiber and other nutrients.

According to the report mentioned earlier that discusses the recent studies, “...researchers found not all foods that contain fiber are created equal—while whole grains are an important source of fiber, their benefits may be diluted when heavily processed.”

But if you go to the grocery store and start looking at “whole grain” products, this is where it can get very tricky. For example, you may see processed crackers that say “made with whole grains,” but this does not mean that this product is 100 percent whole grain or even healthy for that matter. 

Go for 100 percent natural.

In order to make sure you are getting the fiber, it is best to go for 100 percent natural whole grains such as quinoa, barley, amaranth, buckwheat and more. If something comes in a box and the food label lists a bunch of other ingredients, this is a sign that you may not be getting the fiber you probably want and need.

And as I mentioned, fiber is readily available to us all if we make the right food choices. You can get fiber from other foods besides whole grains.

Sources of insoluble fiber include:

Sources of soluble fiber include:

(As you can see, there are foods that contain fiber).

Fight with fiber.

Fiber is so important to our health. So eliminate ultra-processed foods and fill up on nutrient-rich, fiber-rich foods. You will feel more satisfied and may even be able to fight off many different types of diseases that threaten so many Americans.

In some cases, a person can get too much fiber. To learn about the warning signs of having too much fiber in your diet, read here. And as always, speak with a competent healthcare professional about what foods you are including in your diet, especially if you have any existing health issues, are taking any medications or are pregnant or breastfeeding.

 

Enjoy your healthy life!

 

The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.

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