What is fiber and why is it essential for a healthy diet?


Undoubtedly you have heard before that fiber is excellent to avoid constipation and improve cardiovascular health. But do you know why?

This plant-based substance is part of the carbohydrate family and, unlike starch or sugar, is not digested or absorbed, but flows rapidly through the intestine without contributing calories nor increasing blood sugar.

There are two main types of fiber.  Soluble fiber: these disperse in water and form a viscous gel when in contact with the water, thus causing the digestive process to be slow. Moreover, they reduce cholesterol. The other type is  insoluble fiber: these do not dissolve in water, but absorb it, like a sponge. These fibers accelerate the food passage in the stomach and intestines.

Fiber is the structural part of fruit, vegetables, seeds and grains and play a vital role in the intestinal transit and health in general. All foods rich in fiber, contain both types of fiber but in different proportions. Food experts recommend the ingestion of dietary fiber to ideally supply insoluble and soluble fiber in a 5-3:1 ratio.

Fiber health benefits: 

  • Fibers are  essential for a good intestinal transit. In fact, insoluble fiber absorbs water and thus increases the volume of the alimentary bolus, which makes it easier to evacuate. Consuming enough fiber is helpful against constipation.
  • Fiber helps to  regulate blood sugar. Soluble fiber forms a viscous gel in the intestine which helps to diminish glucose absorption. Therefore, they are an ally in diabetes prevention. A better blood sugar regulation also plays an important role in preventing cardiovascular diseases and obesity. 
  • Fiber is also  important for weight control. When absorbing water, fiber grows in volume inside the stomach, producing a satiety effect which helps regulate your appetite. This is relevant, because for the same volume of food, fiber has fewer calories than other nutrients. According to a study published in Annals of Internal Medicine, adding 30 grams of fiber to your food every day helps to reduce body weight.

Despite the importance of fiber, their daily consumption by adults is approximately 14 grams, whereas the quantity recommended by health and nutrition organizations is 28-30 grams per day; the double of our current consumption.


How to consume more fibre?

  • Start your day with energy. Eat a whole piece of fruit at breakfast instead of just fruit juice and chose cereals with 5 grams or more of fiber.
  • Consume at least 3 or 4 portions of vegetables and 2 pieces of fruit per day; including the skin, if possible.
  • Add  SOW chia seeds,almonds, hazelnuts or walnuts to your breakfast, snacks, yoghurt or salads.
  • Choose whole grains such as brown rice, wholemeal bread, quinoa, etc.
  • Replace part of the white flour in your recipes such as bread, cake or cookies by  SOW chia flour (56% fiber).
  • Incorporate legumes into your food (lentils, beans, garbanzos, etc.). They are rich in fiber and protein.

Although fiber is beneficial, it is important to increase your fiber consumption gradually. This way bacteria which exist naturally in your digestive system can adapt, and you will not suffer the inconveniences the fiber increase might cause in your intestines, such as abdominal distension, gases, flatulence and cramps. Staying hydrated during the day is important to improve digestion as well, fiber functions better when accompanied by water.

Foods rich in fiber:

Fiber are present in all plants, but particularly in:

  • Fruit: bananas, apples, pears, raspberries, figs, peaches, etc.
  • Vegetables: artichokes, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, etc.
  • Legumes: lentils, frijoles, garbanzos, white frijoles, etc.
  • Dried fruits and seeds: almonds,chia seeds, pistachios, peanuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, etc.
  • Whole grains: oat, rye, quinoa, brown rice, etc.
  • Flours rich in fiber: wheat bran,chia flour, whole grain oat flower, etc. 

Besides, it is better to consume non-refined food, as in processed food such as canned vegetables, juice without pulp, non-wholegrain bread and cereals, the outer skin of the grains is removed, which drastically reduces their fiber content.

Know more about our food varieties rich in fiber on  www.sow.bio.