Whenever I’m at a loss of ideas on what to write about for a blog-post, I think about what I am teaching in class on the given week. (Side Note: I teach an introductory nutrition class at the local community college). This week we are learning about one of the three macro-nutrients: Carbohydrates! So naturally, I thought about the beautiful branched fiber molecules and voilà, here’s my blog topic for this week!
If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, you may have noticed that the Spice Girls LOVE fiber. Here are a few reasons why:
- Aids in digestion ( our favorite body system! )
- Promotes satiety ( bye bye hunger )
- Can help lower cholesterol ( #cheerios )
- Helps to steady blood glucose levels ( extended energy! )
- Boosts healthy gut bacteria ( maximize the microbiome )
In structure, fiber is very similar to starch. The main difference is that the bonds that hold the sugar units together can not be broken down by our bodies. This means they are indigestible and pass through our body relatively intact. Have you ever wondered why foods like corn, blueberries, or beans come out looking like the way they went into your body? Fiber is the answer!
There are two main types of fiber and they serve different purposes. Soluble Fiber slows digestion by absorbing water into the digestive tract. These fibers become viscous or jelly-like in texture. A great example of a soluble fiber is chia seeds. When soaked in water, they form a gel or “pudding” consistency. The second type of fiver is Insoluble Fiber. This type of fiber does not absorb water, but works to create bulk in the digestive tract. Examples of insoluble fiver include the strings on celery, the outer shell of grain kernels known as bran, and the outer layer (hull) of seeds. Most fiber-rich foods contain both types of fiber but may contain more of one than the other. Each type of fiber promotes health, but at times, one may be more important than another. For example, when stools are very hard, incorporating soluble fiber into the diet can pull more water into the digestive tract and soften stools. On the other hand if stools are very loose, consuming more foods with insoluble fiber may contribute to solidity.
So what whole foods contain this fiber goodness? All the things we have been talking about: fruits, veggies, legumes, whole grains, nuts, & seeds. So eat up & stay healthy with Fiber.