Fibrous foods are among the foods that are preferred for the prevention or relief of constipation and in diets for weight loss. In addition to these common benefits, fiber foods also protect against diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and some types of cancer. Having a balanced and regular diet is a must for a healthy life. Fiber foods should also be among the foods that should be in a balanced diet. For a healthy diet, a person should know the amount of fiber he / she needs daily and consume enough fiber to meet the needs.
What is fiber, what are its types?
Dietary fiber contains the indigestible parts of the vegetable products we consume. Macromolecules such as carbohydrate, fat and protein in foods; It is absorbed by separating into building blocks in digestive organs such as stomach and small intestine starting from the mouth. However, enzymes that can digest the fiber content of foods, also known as fiber, do not exist in humans. For this reason, the fiber part of the food reaches the large intestine (colon) without being digested.
Fiber in foods is divided into two basic groups according to whether it can be dissolved in water or not:
Soluble Fiber: This type of fiber, which is soluble in water, has a gel-like structure. Most of the fibers fall under the soluble group. Soluble fibers help regulate blood sugar and cholesterol. The rate of soluble fiber is high in foods such as oats, legumes, citrus fruits, apples and carrots.
Insoluble Fiber: This fiber group, which is insoluble in water, regulates the digestive system movements and increases the volume of stool (stool) thanks to its insoluble structure. In this way, it will be beneficial for people with irregular bowel movements or constipation to consume foods containing insoluble fiber in their diets. Whole grain products, nuts, cauliflower and similar vegetables and legumes are foods rich in insoluble fiber.
Soluble and insoluble fiber ratios differ between foods. For this reason, it is beneficial to increase the type of food consumed in order to get enough of all the fiber types needed by the body.
What Do Fibrous Foods Do in the Intestine?
A large number of different types of microorganisms live in a healthy person’s body. In fact, the total number of these microorganisms is approximately 10 times the number of human cells. These microorganisms are also present in places such as the skin, mouth and nose, but they are particularly concentrated in the digestive system. In the digestive system, the large intestine, namely the colon, hosts these microorganisms.
About 500 different species of bacteria live in the large intestine, and the total number of these organisms reaches 100 trillion. Bacteria in the intestine are also called intestinal flora. While the bacteria in its flora provide a sheltered environment and nutrients for them in the intestine, they benefit the body by performing some reactions that humans cannot do. Intestinal flora; It has a wide range of effects, from immune system function to blood sugar regulation, from brain functions to weight control. There is also a close relationship between fiber foods and nutrition and intestinal flora. As it is known, the fiber content in foods cannot be digested by humans and therefore the fibers come to the large intestine unchanged. Bacteria living in the large intestine have enzymes to digest fibers. Therefore, the fiber content in the gut is digested by bacteria. Thus, fibers contribute positively to the development of the intestinal flora and show a prebiotic effect. In addition, short-chain fatty acids such as acetate and butyrate propionate, which are formed as a result of beneficial bacteria digesting fibers, also reduce inflammation in the intestine. Thanks to reduced inflammation in the intestine, the risk of diseases such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome is reduced.
What Are the Benefits of Fiber Foods?
Eating a diet rich in fiber has the following positive effects on the body:
Regulates Bowel Movements: Fibrous foods increase the volume of the stool and make the stool softer. This facilitates the movement of intestinal contents. Feeding people with constipation problems with fibrous foods can help increase bowel movements and relieve constipation. People with diarrhea problems also benefit from fiber foods. These foods contribute to the normalization of stool structure thanks to the water retention property of fiber.
Improves Intestinal Health: Consumption of high-fiber foods lowers the risk of developing intestinal diseases such as hemorrhoids and diverticulitis. Fibrous foods also have protective properties in terms of some colorectal cancers.
Reduces Cholesterol Level: Consumption of foods containing soluble fiber helps to reduce the total cholesterol level in the body by reducing LDL levels known as “bad” cholesterol. Foods rich in fiber also have different effects that positively affect heart health, such as lowering blood pressure and reducing inflammation.
Provides Blood Sugar Control: In diabetic patients, a diet rich in fiber, especially soluble fiber, helps to increase blood sugar in a controlled manner by slowing the absorption of sugar. Foods containing insoluble fiber may also be helpful in preventing the development of type 2 diabetes.
Helps Maintain Ideal Weight: Fibrous foods provide a feeling of satiety more than non-fiber foods and cause the person to feel full for a long time. In this way, the person can fill up more quickly with less portions. In addition, foods high in fiber generally contain fewer calories compared to volume. In this way, when high-fiber foods are consumed, the same portion provides fewer calories than other foods.
What are Fiber Foods?
Fiber is found in many different foods. Thus, you have many options to meet the amount of fiber you need while preparing a meal that suits your taste.
The daily amount of fiber needed by the body may vary depending on age and gender. While the daily fiber requirement of women under 50 is 25 grams, that of men is 38 grams. While the fiber need for women over the age of 50 can be met with 21 grams, 30 grams is sufficient for men.
Foods high in fiber:
- Bread, pasta, and breakfast cereals made from whole grain flour
- Barley, rye, oats and foods made from them
- Vegetables such as broccoli, corn, cauliflower, carrots
- Apple, citrus fruits
- Legumes such as peas, chickpeas, dried beans
- Nuts and seeds (such as chia seeds)
- It can be counted as a thin-skinned potato (when consumed without peeling the skin).
If we consider the fiber content of foods in grams, 60 grams of broccoli contain approximately 3 grams of fiber, and about 3 grams of fiber in a mid-boot apple. A handful of almonds and sunflower seeds contain 3 grams of fiber, and walnuts 2 grams. 60 grams of dried beans contain 6 grams of fiber, and lentils 5 grams. One slice of whole grain bread has 2 grams of fiber, while a slice of rye bread has 2 grams of fiber.
There are ready-made foods with enriched fiber content for people who have difficulty in meeting the amount of fiber they need with these foods. It is possible to meet the daily need by consuming foods such as yoghurt enriched with fiber, ice cream and snack bars.