What is dietary fiber?
Dietary fiber should be an essential part of your everyday diet. Without it, you may suffer constipation, hemorrhoids, and high blood pressure, in addition to longer-term adverse effects.
If you are on a bulking diet, you may decide to temporarily reduce your fiber intake in favor of other, calorie-rich alternatives. However, this is a last resort for skinny guys who have trouble gaining weight, not an acceptable dietary modification for long-term use. It is something you should do your best to avoid.
Dietary fiber can be divided into two categories: soluble fiber and insoluble fiber.
Soluble fiber dissolves in water. In the gut, bacteria break it down into several important nutrients. Consequently, soluble fiber is an essential part of your diet. Furthermore, soluble fiber’s fermentation products contribute calories to your daily total, perhaps 2 calories per gram.
Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water. It passes through the gut mostly unchanged. Although it is not an essential part of the diet from a nutritional standpoint, without it you will eventually experience problems with digestion and elimination.
Why should I eat dietary fiber?
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that you eat 20 to 35 grams of fiber every day. Furthermore, the FDA recommends 14 grams of fiber for every 1000 calories that you consume. If your diet supplies 3500 calories per day, you should try to eat at least 49 grams of fiber daily.
Many different sources on the web tout the supposed anti-cancer benefits of dietary fiber. According to conventional wisdom, a high-fiber diet will reduce your chances of developing colon cancer. Unfortunately, a recent Harvard study involving close to 100,000 women showed this theory to be unfounded.
Nevertheless, a diet that is deficient in fiber will eventually lead to other problems like trouble with defecation and nutritional deficiencies.
If you are a weight lifter on a high protein diet — which I don’t recommend, for these reasons – you should make sure to get enough fiber every day. High protein diets are notorious for causing intestinal upset and elimination problems. A decent amount of dietary fiber will prevent these troubles.
How can I add fiber to my diet?
Most plant foods are a source of fiber.
As a rough rule of thumb, nuts and grains are a good source of insoluble fiber, while beans and citrus fruits are excellent sources of soluble fiber.
The US government collects data on the fiber content of various foods. You can view a handy chart listing this information here.
Make sure to get a sufficient amount of fiber in your diet. The consequences of a low-fiber diet are worth avoiding.
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