Fiber is a carbohydrate than cannot be broken down by the body. Complex carbohydrates are generally broken down into smaller sugar molecules, but fiber passes through the digestive tract undigested. Since fiber is not broken down, it cannot be used for energy. This means that the fiber itself will not contain calories or raise blood sugar.
Types of Fiber
Fiber can be broken down into two categories: soluble and insoluble.
Soluble fiber dissolves in water and forms a gel-like substance. It can aid in lowering cholesterol and managing blood sugar by slowing digestion.
o Examples include: beans, oats, broccoli, pears, apples, figs, flax seeds, carrots, barley, sunflower seeds, Brussels sprouts, peas, berries
Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water, which aids in digestion by increasing stool bulk. It helps manage blood sugar as well.
o Examples include: whole wheat/whole grain products, lentils, cauliflower, nuts, potatoes, celery, zucchini, carrots, apples, berries
*Many fruits and vegetables contain both soluble and insoluble fiber!
How Much Fiber Should I Be Getting?
For men under the age of 50, it is recommended that you consume roughly 38 g of fiber daily. Men over the age of 50 should consume roughly 30 g/day.
For women under the age of 50, it is recommended that you consume roughly 25 g of fiber daily. Women over the age of 50 should consume roughly 21 g/ day.