1 / Definition
Fiber is a carbohydrate that is not assimilated by the body, is not digested, and takes with it unnecessary residues.
Their roles are numerous and essential to good general health.
Fibers allow :
- To protect the intestinal walls, avoid inflammation
- To limit the absorption of sugars and fats
- To nourish the intestinal flora
- To ensure a good transit
- To increase the volume of digestion waste
- A satiating effect
- Protection against diseases, viruses, and toxins
- Reduce the glycemic index of foods, stabilize blood sugar levels
The harmful effects of a lack of fiber :
In the short term:
- weight gain
- digestive problems
In the long term :
- inflammation of the intestines
- Colorectal cancer
- Autoimmune diseases
- intestinal dysbiosis
- excess cholesterols
- sensitivity to infections and allergies
- intestinal permeability
The different types of fibers
– Soluble fibers: They represent ⅔ of the fibers consumed. They fill up with water and create a protective gel for the intestinal walls. They are found in fresh fruits and vegetables
– Insoluble fiber: They represent ⅓ fiber intake. They promote digestive movement and transit. They reduce the absorption of fats and sugars because they create a barrier. They are found in the bark of cereals and pulses.
2/ The current intake of the population
The Western population consumes an average of 12g of fiber per day. In reality, the recommended intakes are 25 to 30g per day.
Above 40g per day, there can be a harmful effect with loss of nutrients, diarrhea, malabsorption, irritation of the walls…
3/How to increase your fiber intake?
To reach the daily fiber quota (25 to 30g per day) it is necessary:
-3 fruits per day, preferably raw, with the skin and without pesticides.
-2 plates of 200g of raw or cooked vegetables, the fibers are softened by cooking but remain well present. They even become a little easier to digest.
-1 portion of wholemeal starchy bread with seeds (2 slices of multigrain wholemeal bread in the morning for example).
Add almonds and walnuts as a snack because they are high in fiber too, just like coconut.
Use the Foodvisor application to see if you are getting enough.
How do I choose the right amount of fiber?
Complementary cereals, oat bran, flaxseed, hemp seed, and chia seed contain a lot of insoluble fiber.
Refined cereals such as white flour, white pasta, bread, rice do not contain fiber or interesting nutrients. They must be eaten whole to benefit from them.
Lentils, chickpeas, beans, and other pulses contain insoluble fiber that is quite hard and sometimes indigestible.
They will create bloating in some people through fermentation. They must be soaked 1 night before cooking to reduce this phenomenon.
Fruits and vegetables remain the staple foods of a healthy diet.
It is necessary to compose your plates with vegetables and to add as an accompaniment 1 protein and 1 complete starchy food.
4/ Example of a high-fiber menu :
- 2 slices of wholemeal cereal bread with butter
- 1 tea or coffee without sugar
- 1 kiwi
- 1/2 plate of vegetables ( Fondue of leek or pan-fried vegetables )
- 1/4 plate of starchy foods ( ½ sweet potato )
- 1 portion of protein ( Chicken escalope )
- 1 low-fat dairy (1 plain yogurt)
- 1 fruit
- 1 apple + a mix of nuts and almonds
- 1/2 plate of vegetables or 1 soup (pumpkin soup)
- 1/4 plate wholemeal starchy foods (wholemeal rice)
- 1 serving of protein or 1 low-fat dairy product
- 1 cooked fruit or compote
- 1 infusion
Some examples of high-fiber foods :
- Almonds (12g/100g)
- Walnuts (7g/100g)
- Green vegetables, fennel, leeks, carrots, cucumber, etc… (between 1.5 and 7g of fiber per 100g).
- Fruits, pineapple, apple, pear, dates, apricots, prunes, etc … (between 1.5 and 16g of fiber per 100g)
- Oat bran (12g/100g)
- Wholemeal bread with cereals (7g/100g)
It is important to consume fiber every day, through fruits and vegetables.
They serve as prebiotics and are beneficial for health and the maintenance of a healthy weight.
In excess, they can become harmful and cause digestive and malabsorption problems.
The article was written by Elsa Orivel, Dietitian at Foodvisor