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What's the Buzz About Fiber?

Every day, you hear about the importance of consuming enough fiber, choosing whole-grain products...

What are fibers, where are they, and why are they good for us? The topic is complex and multifaceted, but don't worry; our newly launched 3-part series will guide you through the magical world of fibers and your intestines, so by the end, you'll have all the answers.

Let's start from the beginning, grab a glass of water!


cabbages

What do we call fiber?

Fibers are complex carbohydrates, composed of at least three simple sugars, that our bodies cannot digest. Despite this, they are crucial for our health. Fibers act as a kind of bulk material; our digestive system cannot fully break them down, and they provide little to no energy.


Why are fibers important?

The role of fibers is multifaceted. In a quick summary, we can mention that they contribute to the proper functioning of our digestion: forming the mass of stool is one of their main tasks. Without them, you'd spend quite a long time on the toilet, waiting for that "inspiration," reading every magazine or responding to every incoming message...


Additionally, fibers support the proper formation of the intestinal flora. Some (prebiotic) fibers contribute to the growth of beneficial (probiotic) bacteria in the intestines. Fibers also indirectly support the nourishment of the cells making up the intestinal wall, help bind and eliminate unnecessary, harmful substances in our bodies, increase the feeling of fullness and satiety, regulate blood sugar levels, and reduce harmful (LDL) cholesterol levels.


In summary, they help reduce the risk of gastrointestinal cancers, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. As a bonus, when you consume more fiber-rich foods, you'll need to chew more, leading to increased saliva production. Thus, fibers improve oral hygiene and protect the health of your teeth.


Where can you find fiber?

Fibers are found in plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables, (dry) legumes, whole grains, cereal flakes, bran, pseudo-grains (buckwheat, quinoa, amaranth), and oily seeds, nuts.


In the case of whole-grain flours, the fiber-rich bran in the grain's husk is not removed during processing, so it is ground into the flour (which is why it's called whole grain). This is why whole-grain flours and unrefined/unhulled grains (brown rice, millet, wheat, rye, oats, barley), cereal flakes, by-products of beer production (grain remnants after filtering sweet wort, also known as spent grains), dry and cooked, baked pastas, breads, pastries made from whole-grain flour are more favorable for digestion, carbohydrate metabolism, and the health aspects mentioned above, compared to refined flour and products made from them, as well as hulled grains (e.g., white rice).


protein- and fiber-rich brewer's spent grain in hand

A good piece of advice: always drink enough fluid alongside fiber-rich foods, preferably water, to allow the fibers to swell, avoiding unpleasant digestive issues (bloating, constipation, flatulence). It's time for hydration!


How much fiber should we eat daily?

Depending on body size and individual health status, we need 25-45 grams (averaging around 25-30 grams) of fiber per day. Unfortunately, according to the latest national nutrition survey, the average fiber intake of the Hungarian population fell slightly below the recommended levels: men's diets contained 24.4 g/day, and women's contained 21.6 g/day of fiber (OTÁP2019). Only the average fiber intake of men aged 35-64 slightly exceeded the recommended amount. Even in their case, only 46% exceeded the daily recommendation of 25 grams.


With a balanced, mixed diet, including at least 400-500 grams of vegetables, fruits, and mostly whole-grain (pseudo) grains, legumes, and oily seeds, this amount of fiber can be easily achieved.


fiber-rich diet, whole meat bread, whole grains, etc

Fibers should not be overemphasized. A balanced diet can include non-whole grain (refined) flours and hulled grains or even peeled fruits and vegetables. Individual health conditions (e.g., reflux, gallbladder disease, inflammatory bowel diseases, gastric upset...) can influence how much and what type of fiber is suitable for you. In such cases, involving a dietitian is necessary after receiving an accurate medical diagnosis.


If you want to boost your mornings or snacks with an easily and quickly prepared, fiber-rich, and sustainably made granola, look for products made from spent grains in the webshop!


In the next part, we'll talk about the intestinal flora: you'll find out exactly what it is, why it's essential for the health of your intestines, and what you can do, more precisely, what you can eat, to ensure peaceful coexistence in this long, winding organ with its many useful and less friendly microorganisms. Did you know, for example, that even your mood and well-being can depend on who lives in your intestines?

 

Judit Schmidt is a dietitian, health educator, and workplace well-being program manager. She is engaged in prevention, education, and background work related to health, well-being, and nutrition. She conveys knowledge on nutrition, health, and well-being through article writing, blogging, editing, proofreading, and creating professional texts on these topics. Additionally, she conducts informative presentations for companies and schools. Her main focus is on disease prevention and creating a balanced and sustainable diet. Her motto is "the sunny side of food." Judit presents her profession and works in a personal, occasionally humorous style on various social media platforms under the name Youteefool.

 

Her website: www.schmidtjudit.hu

Facebook: Youteefool

Instagram: Youteefool


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