Dietary fiber, also known as roughage or bulk, includes all parts of plant foods that your body can’t digest or absorb. Unlike other food components such as fats, proteins or carbohydrates — which your body breaks down and absorbs — fiber isn’t digested by your body. Therefore, it passes relatively intact through your stomach, small intestine, colon and out of your body.
Fiber is commonly classified into two categories: those that don’t dissolve in water (insoluble fiber) and those that do (soluble fiber).
Insoluble fiber. This type of fiber promotes the movement of material through your digestive system and increases stool bulk, so it can be of benefit to those who struggle with constipation or irregular stools. Whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts and many vegetables are good sources of insoluble fiber.
Soluble fiber. This type of fiber dissolves in water to form a gel-like material. It can help lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels. Soluble fiber is found in oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, barley and psyllium.
Fiber has a wide variety of health benefits including the ability to normalize bowel movements, help lower blood cholesterol and control blood sugar levels.
High-fiber foods generally require more chewing time, which gives your body time to register when you’re no longer hungry, so you’re less likely to overeat. Also, a high-fiber diet tends to make a meal feel larger and linger longer, so you stay full for a greater amount of time. And high-fiber diets also tend to be less “energy dense,” which means they have fewer calories for the same volume of food.
For men aged 50 and younger you should be consuming 38 gram and women in the same age group should be consuming 25 grams per day. For men aged 51 and older you should be consuming 30 grams and women in the same age group should be consuming 21 grams per day.
When using fiber supplements we generally recommend consuming them at night before bed. Fiber does absorb water and increase in volume after being consumed in some people this can cause slight bloating or gas. Adequate water should be consumed with any fiber supplement.
Dominick Walsh is a blogger for Performance Nutrition and TMRzoo.com and covers all men’s health topics and exercise issues including protein powders, diets, weight loss, weight lifting supplements, fat burners and supplement reviews. Dominick’s columns cover everything you need to know about your pre, during and post workout nutrition.