Topics: Dietary fiber, Nutrition, Constipation Pages: 8 (2610 words) Published: March 21, 2013
Home Health Care Management & Practice http://hhc.sagepub.com/

Fiber in Whole Foods: A Closer Look
Patricia T. Alpert Home Health Care Management Practice published online 25 January 2013 DOI: 10.1177/1084822312474005 The online version of this article can be found at: http://hhc.sagepub.com/content/early/2013/01/23/1084822312474005

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Fiber in Whole Foods: A Closer Look
Patricia T. Alpert1

Home Health Care Management & Practice XX(X) 1–3 © 2013 SAGE Publications Reprints and permission: sagepub.com/journalsPermissions.nav DOI: 10.1177/1084822312474005 http://hhcmp.sagepub.com

Abstract Fiber has more health benefits than treating or preventing constipation or hemorrhoids. But most individuals do not include foods with adequate amounts of fiber to their diet. Perhaps low consumption of fiber is due to poor food choices or because one is not aware of the food high in fiber content. In this issue the facts about fiber are discussed including a list of commonly consumed foods and their fiber content. Keywords fiber foods, adequate intake, fruits and vegetables, whole grains, health benefits, beans and nuts

Dietary fiber, also known as roughage, is not an attractive topic of discussion, in fact, for many this is an embarrassing topic of conversation because it is frequently associated with the prevention or treatment for constipation. However, fiber is much more than a stool softener. It has many more health benefits besides the prevention or treatment for constipation, but what foods and how much fiber should one consume daily?

Fiber Facts
Fiber, unlike other food substances such as protein, fat, and carbohydrates, cannot be digested and absorbed nor does it add calories or food energy. In nature there are two types of fiber that can be found in foods, insoluble and soluble. Both are major players in the role of improving health. Insoluble fiber is inert and its bulking characteristic allows for the absorption of water to increase the motility of contents moving through the intestines. This laxative effect helps to prevent constipation. Insoluble fiber also controls and balances the pH (acidity) in the intestines. On the other hand, soluble fiber also known as viscous fiber dissolves in water to a gel that slows down digestion and delays stomach emptying. This effect gives one the sensation of feeling full, which in turn prevents one from overeating. Because soluble fiber slows down transit time the feeling of satiety lasts for a longer period than if one ate a diet with little or no fiber. When in the stomach, the gel-like property traps certain food components and makes these components less available for absorption. Because most of the fiber in our diet comes from whole grains, beans, nuts, and some fruits and vegetables, foods most Americans consume do not contain adequate daily amounts of fiber (many consume on average 5-14 g per day). In 2005, the National Academy of Science and the

Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommended an adequate intake (AI) for men and women based on age. Women below 50 years of age and teen girls should consume 25 g per day and women older than 50 require 21 g of fiber per day. The recommendation for men below the age of 50 and teen boys is 30 to 38 g per day while men older than 50 years of age require 30 g per day. Frequently people shy away from eating a lot of fiber because...
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