OCTOBER 2015 ;e Costco Connection 51
for your health
By Suzanne Badieozzaman
MOST PEOPLE ARE unfamiliar with the fact that
different types of fiber exist, with different functions
that can benefit your health.
Dietary fiber is found in fruits, veggies, legumes,
seeds, nuts and whole grains. Whole grains are an
excellent source of fiber, compared with refined
grains, because refined sources lack the bran, germ
and endosperm, leaving you with more starch and
less fiber, nutrients and antioxidants. Food contains
all types of fiber, but in different proportions; for
example, lentils are rich in insoluble fiber, while oats
are richer in soluble fiber.
The Institute of Medicine (
mies.org) recommends a fiber intake of 25 grams per
day for women and 38 grams per day for men ages
19 to 50. Since older adults take in fewer calories
they need less fiber; the recommended intake is calculated as 21 grams per day and 30 grams per day
for women and men, respectively, ages 50 and above.
Recommended amounts include five to nine
servings per day of fruits and veggies (one serving
equals ½ cup) and 6 servings per day of grains, with
half of that from whole grains, according to the U.S.
Department of Agriculture food guide, MyPlate
choosemyplate.gov). Six servings of grain may sound
like a lot, but a serving can equal a 1-ounce slice of
bread or ½ cup of cooked pasta; choosing products
with 5 grams of fiber per serving or more is best.
Types of fiber
Insoluble fiber keeps you regular and strengthens your intestinal muscles. This strong fiber is
found in plant cell walls and cannot dissolve in
water or be digested, so it passes through, pretty
intact, while giving you a plethora of benefits,
including preventing constipation, hemorrhoids
and diverticulosis (a condition in which intestinal
pockets fill with fecal matter, causing infections and
severe abdominal pain); reducing cardiovascular
and Type 2 diabetes risk factors; helping maintain
healthy weight; and curbing appetite.
Good sources include wheat bran, brown rice,
beets, bananas, apples, figs, pumpkins, all leafy
greens, berries and beans.
Soluble fiber. This viscous fiber glues plant cells
together, dissolves in water and swells up, forming a
gel that grabs bile (or blocks uptake) and eliminates
it, forcing the liver to pull more cholesterol from the
bloodstream to make more bile, indirectly helping to
reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol. It also helps to regulate blood glucose and lower blood pressure, takes
out toxins and is fermentable, meaning it supports
good bacteria, keeping your immune system strong,
with the cost of expelling unwanted gas.
An article in the December 2013 issue of Today’s
Dietitian listed top sources of soluble fiber: all
beans, oat cereals, Brussels sprouts, oranges and
flaxseeds. Other great sources include barley, pears,
potatoes, psyllium and prunes.
Resistant starch resists digestion, quickly pass-
ing through relatively untouched while promoting
good-bug gut flora that produce cancer-fighting
butyrate fatty acids. A University of Colorado Cancer
Center article said that “resistant starch also helps the
body resist colorectal cancer through mechanisms,
such as killing precancerous cells and reducing
inflammation that can otherwise promote cancer.”
Sources include under-ripe bananas and cooked
then cooled starchy foods like pastas, potatoes,
legumes (richest source), oatmeal and rice. This
starch is also extracted and added to products. The
University of Colorado recommends eating these
foods at or below room temperature to reap the
cancer-fighting benefits; when you heat them up the
resistant starch is gone. So let that hot potato cool!
Functional fibers are isolated and added to
enhance the fiber content and texture of products.
Nutrition labels list isolated insoluble fibers as cellulose, oat and soy fiber, and soluble sources as inulin, oligofructose, wheat dextrin (avoid if you are
celiac or gluten intolerant), polydextrose, polyols,
gums, pectin and psyllium.
Thanks to the National Fiber Council’s fiber
Meet your BFFs (best fiber friends)
THE NATIONAL FIBER Council has information about fiber:
Apple peels relieve constipation, while apple cores
Metamucil uses psyllium
husks; you can add it to
Sprinkle flaxseeds on your
cereal: 1 tablespoon = 2
grams of dietary fiber.
Sprinkle chia seeds on
your yogurt: 1 tablespoon
= 5 grams of dietary fiber.
Have fruits and veggies at
every meal and with every
snack to meet your daily
Make half of your plate
fruits and veggies.
Nutrition label definitions:
“Good” sources of fiber
contain a minimum of 3
grams per serving; “
excellent” sources of fiber contain a minimum of 5 grams
Many insoluble fibers, like
inulin, act as prebiotics
(food for good bacteria).
If you’re not used to eating
fiber, add it to your diet
slowly and stay hydrated.
For meals and snacks,
women should try to get
at least 7 grams and 3
grams of fiber, respectively, and men should aim
for 10 grams and 3 grams
of fiber, respectively.
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