Are You Getting the Right Kind of Fiber?

What is dietary fiber?

Dietary fiber consists of the edible parts of plants that are resistant to digestion and absorption in the body. It can be found in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and nuts. Depending on its solubility in water, dietary fiber is commonly classified as either insoluble or soluble.

  • Insoluble fiber: Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water. It is the bulky fiber that helps to prevent constipation. It includes cellulose, chitin, hemicellulose, lignin, etc. Insoluble fiber can be found in foods like cereal, barley, wheat flour, wheat bran, beans, and vegetables.

Insoluble fiber colon health

  • Soluble fiber: Soluble fiber dissolves in water to form a gel-like texture. It helps to lower blood cholesterol and assists with blood sugar management. Soluble dietary fiber includes β-glucan, galactomannan, pectin, psyllium, inulin, and resistant starch. Soluble fiber is found in oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, barley, and psyllium.

Soluble fiber oat beta glucan

  • Prebiotic fiber: Inulin, fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS), galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS), and human milk oligosaccharides (HMO) are fermentable short-chain soluble fibers that have also been extensively studied as prebiotics.1 They serve as food for probiotics, which are the “good bacteria and yeast” in the gut. Inulin, FOD, GOS, and HMO improve human healthy by stimulating the growth of this healthy bacteria.

Prebiotic Fiber, Chicory Root, Inulin, Human Milk Oligosaccharide

How much fiber do you need?

Dietary fiber is believed to be a key component of a healthy diet, as recommended by several nutritional guidelines. The recommended dietary intake depends on gender and age.

Gender

Age

Daily Fiber Recommendations

Men

50 years and younger

38 grams

51 years and older

30 grams

Women

50 years and younger

25 grams

51 years and older

21 grams


Select the right fiber for your health

  • Helps with constipation: Both soluble and insoluble fiber can be used to treat and prevent constipation. Soluble fiber allows more water to remain in the stool, making it softer, larger, and thus, easier to pass through the intestines. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to your fecal material, which hastens its passage through your gut and prevents that constipated feeling.
  • Lowers cholesterol level: Soluble fiber found in oats, beans, flaxseed, and oat bran can help lower total blood cholesterol levels and the “bad” low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. The soluble fiber forms a viscous layer and removes the dietary cholesterol and bile acids (which the body makes from cholesterol) from the small intestine.
  • Blood glucose control: Diets low in fiber may cause sudden increases in blood sugar, which can increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Soluble fiber helps you digest foods more slowly, while controlling blood glucose levels. Research shows that a median dose of at least one tablespoon of soluble fiber reduces HbA1c levels by about 60% .2
  • Weight loss benefit: Both soluble and insoluble fiber help you feel and stay full, satisfying your hunger for longer periods of time. So, you’re likely to eat less and stay satisfied longer.
  • Reduced risk of colon diseases: Eating plenty of dietary fiber, particularly insoluble fiber is associated with 40% lower risk of developing a diverticular disease, such as diverticular disease.3
  • Reduced risk of other chronic diseases: Dietary fiber is associated with the reduced risk of hypertension, cardiac diseases, stroke, and cancer 4,5.

Select the right foods

SOLUBLE FIBER

Food

Serving Size

Grams of Soluble Fiber

Oatmeal (cooked)

1 cup

4

Mango

1 small

3.4

Asparagus (cooked)

1 cup

3.4

Barley (cooked)

1/2 cup

3.3

Figs (dried)

3

2.8

Black beans

½ cup

2.4

Kidney beans (light red)

½ cup

2

Brussels sprouts

½ cup

2

Apricots (fresh)

4

1.8

Orange

1 small

1.8

Pumpernickel bread

1 slice

1.2

Flaxseed (ground)

1 tablespoon

1.1

Apple (with skin)

1 medium

1.0

Apple (without skin)

1 medium

0.7

 

INSOLUBLE FIBER

Food

Serving Size

Grams of Insoluble Fiber

Wheat bran

½ cup

11.3

Kidney beans (light red)

½ cup

5.9

Black beans

½ cup

3.7

Pear (fresh with skin)

1 large

3.6

Okra

½ cup

3.1

Green peas

½ cup

3

Apple (with skin)

1 medium

2.7

Raspberries

1 cup

2.4

Flaxseed (ground)

1 tablespoon

2.2

Asparagus (cooked)

1 cup

3.2

Barley (cooked)

½ cup

2.2

Sweet potato (without skin)

½ cup

2.2

Whole wheat pasta (cooked)

½ cup

2.1

Apple (without skin)

1 medium

1.7

Banana

1 small

1.6

 

Tips for adding dietary fiber to your diet

  • Choose whole-grain bread, crackers, and pasta.
  • Try brown rice instead of white rice.
  • Add beans, peas, and lentils to soups, stews, and salads.
  • When baking, choose recipes that use whole grain flour instead of white flour. Or substitute half of the white flour with whole wheat flour.
  • Add raisins, grated carrots, chopped apple, or diced pear to salads, cereal, bread recipes, or muffin recipes.
  • Have 1-3 servings of fruits and vegetables at each meal.
  • Buy real fruits instead of fruit juice.
  • Eat fruits and vegetables with the skins/peels. Wash them well before eating.
  • Try puréed vegetables instead of cream to thicken soups.
  • Add fiber to your diet gradually throughout the day. Do not eat all of the fiber at one meal.
  • Drink PLENTY of fluids with the fiber to keep your digestive system running smoothly. Aim for at least 8 cups of water every day.

Fiber supplements to consider

  • BranPure™ oat bran powder is a very convenient way to add more fiber into your diet. One scoop of BranPure™ oat bran powder contains 1.5 gram of oat soluble fiber and 3.0 grams of total fiber. You can easily mix the powder with water and drink it with or without your meal.
  • PureHMO™ human milk oligosaccharide is a prebiotic that offers unmatched benefits for your digestive system, immune health, and cognitive function. 

Getting enough of the right kinds of fiber on a daily basis is critical to your overall health. Making sure to consume a balance of insoluble and soluble fiber will keep your body and mind functioning at their highest levels. Thankfully, there is an abundance of natural food sources available to help!

References

  1. Slavin, J. (2013). Fiber and prebiotics: mechanisms and health benefits. Nutrients5(4), 1417-1435.
  2. Jovanovski, E., Khayyat, R., Zurbau, A., Komishon, A., Mazhar, N., Sievenpiper, J. L., ... & Duvnjak, L. (2019). Should viscous fiber supplements be considered in diabetes control? Results from a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Diabetes Care42(5), 755-766.
  3. Aldoori, W. H., Giovannucci, E. L., Rockett, H. R. H., Sampson, L., Rimm, E. B., & Willett, W. C. (1998). A prospective study of dietary fiber types and symptomatic diverticular disease in men. The Journal of nutrition128(4), 714-719.
  4. Anderson, J. W., Baird, P., Davis, R. H., Ferreri, S., Knudtson, M., Koraym, A., ... & Williams, C. L. (2009). Health benefits of dietary fiber. Nutrition reviews67(4), 188-205.
  5. Threapleton, D. E., Greenwood, D. C., Evans, C. E., Cleghorn, C. L., Nykjaer, C., Woodhead, C., ... & Burley, V. J. (2013). Dietary fiber intake and risk of first stroke: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Stroke44(5), 1360-1368.
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