It seems that whether you are experiencing diarrhea or constipation, the commonly touted recommendation is to eat more fiber. If you think that this doesn't make any sense, you're not alone. That is because those well-meaning friends or family members are not being specific when they preach this advice. Knowing which type of fiber you need is especially important if you suffer from a gastrointestinal disease. Learn about the two types of fiber, their benefits and how to make peace with the potty by properly feeding your bowels.
Fiber and Your Gastrointestinal System
Fiber, which comes from plant sources, is one type of carbohydrate. The other two types of carbohydrates, which are sugars and starches, are broken down, digested and converted into energy. Fiber, on the other hand, cannot be broken down, and it is eliminated when you have a bowel movement. Many people do not give fiber much thought. They know that fiber is generally an important part of a balanced diet for optimal digestive health, and they simply ride out the occasional bouts of diarrhea or constipation. For most of the time, their regular intake of fiber maintains acceptable gastrointestinal health. For those with a gastrointestinal disease, however, maintaining the right balance of fiber in their diets can prove more challenging. Some common gastrointestinal diseases include the following:
If you have been diagnosed with a gastrointestinal disease, fiber can be a catch-22. Eating too much of one type of fiber can exacerbate your symptoms of constipation, diarrhea and abdominal pain. Choosing the correct type of fiber, however, can be an empowering step in improving your gastrointestinal function.
Decrease Diarrhea with Soluble Fiber
If you suffer from diarrhea on a frequent basis as a result of your gastrointestinal disease, you should be focusing on incorporating more soluble fiber in your diet. Soluble fiber is that which can absorb the excess water in your gastrointestinal tract, turning into a gelatinous blob that proceeds to move slowly through your system. Some examples of foods that contain respectable amounts of soluble fiber include the following:
- Fresh apricots
- Sweet potatoes
- Cooked asparagus
- Cooked broccoli
- Cooked turnips
Obtaining your soluble fiber from food, as opposed to fiber supplements, provides your body with additional essential vitamins and other nutrients. In addition to improving your digestive health, soluble fiber can reduce your risk for heart disease, regulate your blood sugar level and aid in weight loss and healthy weight maintenance.
Curb Constipation with Insoluble Fiber
Fiber that cannot absorb water is called insoluble fiber. Insoluble fiber remains intact as it migrates through your gastrointestinal tract. It adds bulk to your stool, and the water that it cannot absorb ends up in your colon. Some examples of high insoluble fiber sources include the following:
- Whole grain breads and cereals
- Wheat germ
- Wheat bran
- Brown rice
- Whole grain pastas
- Leafy greens, such as kale and spinach
- Air-popped popcorn
- Pignoli nuts
- Flax seeds
- Sunflower seeds
- Fruits with edible skins, such as apples, peaches and grapes
Foods that are rich in insoluble fiber pass more quickly through your gastrointestinal tract, dragging along any remnant toxins and impurities along with them, which can lower your risk for various cancers. Be aware that some product labels can be deceptive. When shopping for whole grain products, such as bread, cereal or pasta, be sure to read the ingredient list. If the first ingredient listed does not begin with the word whole, put the product back on the shelf and find one that does.
A Balancing Act for Regularity Success
Many of the foods that are high in fiber, such as pumpkin, contain both soluble and insoluble fiber, and different high fiber foods affect each individual's gastrointestinal function uniquely. If you suffer from the unpleasant irregularities and discomfort that accompany you to the toilet as a result of a gastrointestinal disease, consult with your primary care physician or gastroenterologist about a plan to gradually increase your intake of certain high fiber foods and decreasing your intake of others. A gradual change will help your system to ease into a transition more smoothly and enable you to pinpoint which foods affect you in different ways. Once you find the perfectly balanced fiber formula that works best to alleviate your symptoms, you may finally be able to flush away the dread of defecation once and for all. Talk to a doctor, like Choice Medical Group, for more help.Share