Everything you need to know about dietary fiber

Dietary fibers are found everywhere

Fake. Fiber belongs to the carbohydrate family. These non-digestible and non-caloric polysaccharides are found in fruits, vegetables, cereals, etc. Dairy products, meats, fish, sweets and other refined foods are devoid of them.

They are good for health

TRUE. For Alexandra Dalu, nutritionist and author of “100 preconceived ideas that prevent you from feeling well” (ed. Leduc.s), “fiber has the value of medicine. Boosting the intestinal muscles, they promote the evacuation of waste during digestion, while regulating daily transit.” They also improve the assimilation of vitamins and minerals, while maintaining sugar and fat levels at stable levels, promoting satiety. As a result, we eat less but better, which makes it easier to maintain a balanced weight.

Excess fiber can affect health

TRUE. If fiber does not make you sick, it is true that some people can suffer from diarrhea and post-meal bloating in the event of a fragile and/or hypersensitive intestinal mucosa… Excess fiber also reduces the assimilation of certain nutrients ( iron, chromium, zinc, calcium and magnesium). This may be the case for vegans, who are often deficient in iron, vitamin D or B12. In case of irritable bowel or colitis, prefer the softened fibers of cooked vegetables.

They are all worth

Fake. There are two categories of fibers with different effects.

Soluble fibers (pectins, gums, mucilages) regulate transit by forming a gel which boosts the health of the intestinal flora, and limits the absorption of glucose. In case of constipation, they should be favored by putting fruits (apple, banana), vegetables, oatmeal, root vegetables (carrot, parsnip, potato, Jerusalem artichoke, etc.), legumes, flax seeds, etc. on the menu.

Insoluble fibers (lignin, cellulose, hemicellulose) do not dissolve on contact with water. They pass through the digestive tract, carrying fats and toxins along their path, “exfoliating” the intestines. In case of diarrhea, it is preferable to limit the consumption of avocados, figs, cereals, wholemeal bread, nuts, seeds.

We don’t eat enough

TRUE. In 2012, the average consumption of fiber per day in France was 20 g for men and 18 g for women*, with recommendations being 25 g of fiber for adults and 20 g for children. However, eating it daily reduces mortality by 22% and limits the risks of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, colon cancer and obesity. To achieve this amount more easily, you can focus on foods rich in fiber.

You can’t add it to your plate

Fake. There are dietary fiber supplements. This is the case of psyllium, which accentuates bowel movements without causing flatulence. This prebiotic improves the health of healthy intestinal flora, promotes weight loss, reduces the risk of infection and inflammation. “In case of digestive symptoms, it is better to consult a doctor or a gastroenterologist before any supplementation,” recalls Alexandra Dalu, who recommends focusing, if necessary, on asparagus, artichokes, onions, dried vegetables, mushrooms, cabbage. flowers…

* NutriNet-Santé study.

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