The importance of a diet rich in fiber is repeatedly emphasized. The plant fibers not only help prevent obesity, but can also reduce the risk of numerous diseases. But for some people, fiber is unhealthy.
The name sounds rather misleading: fiber is by no means “ballast”. They not only ensure smooth digestion and healthy intestinal flora, but they can also help, among other things, to lower cholesterol and reduce heart risk. A current article from the Mayo Clinic (USA) explains which people should consume more of the plant fibers and which should consume less.
At least 30 grams per day
Fiber is plant fiber that the body cannot digest or absorb. In contrast to other food components such as fats, proteins or carbohydrates, which the body breaks down and absorbs, fiber is almost not digested.
Instead, they pass relatively unscathed through the stomach, small intestine and large intestine and then out of the body. Fiber is generally classified as soluble, i.e. soluble in water, and insoluble, i.e. not soluble in water.
According to the German Society for Nutrition e. V. (DGE), the guideline value for fiber is at least 30 grams per day for adults.
The amount of fiber your body needs may vary depending on your energy needs. And it may also depend on certain health problems you may have.
Why You May Need More Fiber
Constipation, hemorrhoids, high cholesterol and diabetes are some of the health problems for which you are usually advised to increase your fiber intake:
A high-fiber diet helps:
When normalizing bowel movements, fiber increases the weight and size of the stool and makes it softer. A bulky stool is easier to pass, reducing the risk of constipation. If you have loose, watery stool, fiber can help solidify the stool because it absorbs water and adds bulk to the stool.
in maintaining gut health A diet high in fiber can reduce the risk of developing hemorrhoids and small pouches in the colon (diverticular disease or diverticulitis). Studies have also found that a diet high in fiber is likely to reduce the risk of colon cancer.
in lowering cholesterol Soluble fiber in beans, oats, flaxseed and oat bran may help lower total blood cholesterol levels by lowering low-density lipoprotein or “bad” cholesterol levels. Studies have also shown that high-fiber foods may have other heart health benefits, such as lowering blood pressure.
in controlling blood sugar levels In people with diabetes, fiber – especially soluble fiber – can slow the absorption of sugar and help improve blood sugar levels. A healthy diet containing insoluble fiber can also reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
when reaching a healthy weight High-fiber foods tend to be more filling than low-fiber foods, so you’re likely to eat less and stay fuller for longer when you eat high-fiber foods. And foods rich in fiber have a lower “energy density,” meaning they have fewer calories for the same amount of food.
Live longer Studies suggest that increasing fiber intake – particularly grain fiber – is associated with a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease and all types of cancer.
Why You May Need Less Fiber
Reasons you may be recommended a low-fiber diet include:
a narrowing of the intestine This can be due to a tumor or a chronic inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
a previous intestinal operation
Irritation from treatments You have had a treatment that has damaged or irritated your digestive system. For example, radiation can cause irritation.
A diet low in fiber restricts your bowel movements. It can help relieve diarrhea or other symptoms such as stomach pain. After a short time, you may be able to slowly incorporate more fiber into your diet again.
Because a low-fiber diet limits food intake, it can be difficult to meet your nutrient needs. You should only follow a low-fiber diet for as long as directed by a doctor.
If you need to continue this diet for a long period of time, consult a registered dietitian. These can help you ensure you are meeting all of your nutritional needs. (ad)