Ocnutrition’s Blog


Focus on Fiber
February 19, 2012, 9:55 pm
Filed under: Dietary Supplements, General Nutrition, Heart Health, Label Reading

Recently there has been a strong push for Americans to increase their fiber intake. Fiber has been added to food products such as cereals, yogurts, and sweeteners, and the market for fiber supplements has taken off. The majority of Americans are getting less than half the daily fiber recommendation (25 grams/day for women and 38 grams/day for men), so this push for more fiber is a good thing.

Simply put, dietary fibers are non-digestible carbohydrates that help maintain a healthy digestive tract and may improve heart health, immune function, and blood sugar control. Two major categories of fiber are soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber has been found to lower cholesterol and promote digestive health. Good sources are oats, dry beans, peas, lentils, fruits and vegetables. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to the stool to help it pass through the gut more quickly. Foods containing insoluble fiber include wheat bran, whole grains, vegetables, nuts and seeds. A mixture of soluble and insoluble fiber is suggested for optimal health.

Functional fibers are fibers that have been isolated from food products or manufactured for therapeutic use. The use of fiber supplements has been linked with lowered cholesterol, increased weight loss, and improved gut and immune function. It is important to be aware of the type of functional or added fiber so you can receive the desired benefits. Listed below are some of the most common functional and added fibers, what they do, and the products they are found in.

Psyllium

  • Effects– May help lower cholesterol/lower blood pressure/regulate blood sugar, soluble, prevent/relieve constipation
  • Common Products– Metamucil: stir-in powder, wafers, caplets (assorted flavors)

Methylcellulose

  • Effects– Adds bulk to stool, relieves constipation, soluble
  • Common Products– Citrucel: caplets, stir-in powder (unflavored or orange)

Inulin

  • Effects– Supports good gut bacteria, may help absorb calcium, bulking, prevents constipation
  • Common Products– Fiberchoice: chewable tablets (assorted flavors), Activia with Fiber, Fiber One: pancake mix, chewy bars, etc.

Wheat Dextrin

  • Effects– May help lower cholesterol/assist in weight loss/boost immune function, relieves constipation, soluble
  • Common Products– Benefiber: stir-in powder, chewable caplets, tablets, to-go drink mix-ins

Bran

  • Effects– Bulk stool, relieve constipation, insoluble fiber, blockage risk (use in moderate amounts)
  • Common Products– Ready-to-eat cereals (All-Bran, Quaker Oat Bran, Raisin Bran), Bob’s Red Mill Wheat Bran: to be used in food preparation (i.e. baking)

The importance of fiber in our diet is becoming more and more undeniable, which is why finding ways to increase your daily fiber intake is worth the effort. Don’t forget to increase fiber gradually and drink plenty of water to prevent digestive discomfort. Before turning to supplements, try adding more whole grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds to your diet. Be creative and remember that fiber is just one component of a healthy lifestyle!

This information was brought to you by OC Nutrition, Your Trusted Source for Health & Nutrition Advice, and Sarah Trinajstich, CSULB Dietetic Intern.  OC Nutrition offers nutrition counseling services in Newport Beach, Irvine, Orange, Anaheim Hills, Chino Hills, and Long Beach.  If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact:

Kristy L. Richardson, MS,MPH, RD, CSSD, CHES
Registered Dietitian & Exercise Physiologist
(949) 933-6788
kristy@ocnutrition.com
http://www.ocnutrition.com


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