Think fiber supplements are just for geriatrics? Think again. The sad fact is that most of us only get about 10% to 20% of our recommended daily allowance (RDA) of fiber in our diets. Fiber is essential to the digestion of food and the proper function of the body’s waste removal system. There are two types of fiber that work their way into our diets, soluble and insoluble. Most of what is advertised or labeled as “high fiber” in foods is the insoluble variety. It means your body is incapable of fully digesting or breaking down certain components of the food. Leafy veggies with firm stalks (like broccoli or kale), any grain with a husk (like the outside skin of corn kernels), and fruit and vegetable peels fall into this category. But don’t let the term fool you – just because your body doesn’t fully break it down doesn’t mean you don’t need insoluble fiber. This type of fiber absorbs water and liquid which aids digestion by adding bulk and moisture to waste products, thus making them easier to remove from the body.
Soluble fiber on the other hand is that kind of food material which the body processes in order to attain nutrients. Again, this comes from the more nutrient dense foods we eat, like fruits, vegetables and grains, but in this case it’s the leaves, pulp or flesh of the food that is being digested. With soluble fiber, your body is able to use most of this food product until very little is left as waste. This is why insoluble fiber plays an important role as part of a well-rounded diet. Together, the two types of fiber keep your digestive system running smoothly and regularly.
To up your daily intake of fiber, try eating more whole grains, fruits and vegetables, or consider fiber supplements. Powdered mixes now dissolve instantly and tastelessly in any beverage you choose. Gummy candy supplements are not just for kids. And, fiber crackers and biscuits come in a variety of flavors like cinnamon and honey to make them a decent snack. Just be sure that as you up your fiber intake that you also up your water intake to achieve the maximum benefit.