Fiber is super important to good health. Researchers and nutritionists strongly advocate for eating lots of fiber rich foods everyday to help prevent all types of disease and to, well... keep things moving... you know "regular". Natural sources of fiber a highly recommended, especially soluble fiber, which is very beneficial to your heart and to keeping your arteries clean. However...adding processed pulp type fiber, I like to refer to as faux fiber is quite controversial. More research is needed, but some recent studies are putting into question the use of faux fiber due to potential harmful affects on the liver.
The American Heart Association Eating Plan 2 recommends the average adult consume between 25 and 30 grams of fiber each day. The total includes some of each soluble and insoluble fiber.
Soluble Fiber: Absorbs water during digestion, helps increase stool bulk and may decrease blood cholesterol levels. Soluble fiber can be found in fruits such as apples, oranges, and grapefruits. It can also be found in vegetables, legumes such as beans, lentils, and peas, barley, oats and oat bran.
Insoluble Fiber: Is just that, does not dissolve in water nor does it absorb water during digestion. Insoluble fiber helps promote normal movement of food and waste through the intestinal tract. It can be found in fruits with edible peel or seeds such as apple peel and strawberry seeds. Vegetables, whole grains such as whole wheat bread, pasta, and crackers, bulgar wheat, stone ground corn meal, bran, rolled oats, buckwheat, and brown rice are also good sources of insoluble fiber.
Convenience food and fast food manufacturers are trying to find ways of adding fiber to the foods that consumers want to buy. In attempt to up the fiber content some are turning to faux fiber. In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Adminstration (FDA) recently approved the use of eight additional dietary fibers primarily made of fibers like sugar cane fiber and apple fiber, and other similar plant fiber with scientific names including arabinoxylan, alginate, inulin and inulin-type fructans, high amylose starch (resistant starch 2), galactooligosaccharide, polydextrose, and resistant maltodextrin/dextrin.3 Sounds yucky when you say it in Latin, ay?
Inulin is one of the fibers that researchers want to warn us about. Although the food industry is gung-ho on this one, which is made from refining chicory, a plant that although grown and used widely around the world, in my opinion is a bit unpleasant to the palate. Anyway, your grandparents may know of chicory as a coffee substitute during the great wars. Chicory is still used in areas of New Orleans.
Well, for starters, according to researchers as the University of Georgia and the University of Toledo, Ohio, inulin was found to increase the risk of liver cancer in rodents during scientific studies.4 Although the studies are not conclusive for humans and the rodents may have already had weak immune systems, it does raise the flag on the ongoing debate.
On the other side of the controversy is that inulin has been shown to help increase calcium absorption and is beneficial for some people in managing chronic constipation. It has also been found to help lower triglycerides, a type of blood fat that has been shown to increase risk of heart disease.5
Okay. Let's face it, we all want to have our fun "junk" food and our good health too. Here's the kicker...REALITY CHECK! You can't fake good health. You can't paint it on. You can't take a pill and suddenly have good health. And you can't surgically alter your body parts and say you have excellent health, or even good health in most cases.
you have to drink from the well of nature.
We are creatures of nature. Our good health depends on natural ingredients. Yes, junk food, fun food, sweet and salty treats in moderation or as an occasional indulgence is relatively harmless. However, our culture in the United States, and in other cultures increasingly around the globe, is making occasional an ordinary everyday thing. With obesity, pre-diabetes, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and, joint and skeletal related disability on the rise, do we really want to continue down the "path of faux"?
If you prefer to stay on the natural path, seek to increase your fiber intake by reducing the amount of refined and convenience foods you eat. Replace these with fresh fruits and vegetables. Opt to eat a grapefruit or orange instead of drink just the juice.
Also, eat whole grain breads and pastas. NOTE! Whole grain means real whole fiber. Just because the package says whole wheat does not mean the bread has any natural fiber in it. Read the label. Look at the ingredient list and look at the fiber content. Whole wheat or some type of whole grain should be the first ingredient and the fiber content should be at least 2 grams per serving. Also, add beans and lentils to your eating plan. Not only are these excellent sources of fiber, they are very satisfying and a great source of plant protein.
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Increasing Fiber Intake, University of California San Francisco, https://www.ucsfhealth.org/education/increasing_fiber_intake/.
Whole Grains, Refined Grains, and Dietary Fiber, https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/nutrition-basics/whole-grains-refined-grains-and-dietary-fiber
FDA Issues Guidance, Science Review, and Citizen Petition Responses on Dietary Fiber, https://www.fda.gov/Food/NewsEvents/ConstituentUpdates/ucm610534.htm
UToledo research finds link between refined dietary fiber, gut bacteria and liver cancer, https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-10/uot-urf101718.php.