Eating a high fiber breakfast cereal or other high fiber breakfast has significant health benefits, when compared to eating a lower fiber breakfast. Fiber helps the body stay fuller longer and helps to control blood sugar and cholesterol levels. In addition, eating a high fiber diet is a useful tool for weight-loss because fiber expands in the stomach helping the body feel full and an individual to eat less throughout the day.
Fiber and GI Health
Fiber helps clean out the intestines. Diets high in fiber benefit gastrointestinal (GI) health because as fiber travels through the stomach and intestines it absorbs excess water, which promotes regularity and prevents constipation.
It is recommended that men and women under the age of 50 have a daily fiber intake of 38 grams and 25 grams, respectively. These numbers decrease after 51 years of age, to 30 grams of fiber for men and 25 grams for women. Breakfast foods like cereals, yogurts, whole-grain breads, and fruits are a good choice to ensure that enough fiber is being consumed on a daily basis.
Undesirable Effects of Too Much Fiber
As far as GI health goes, it is important to recognize that consuming too much fiber too quickly can lead to undesirable symptoms. These symptoms include excess gas, bloating and cramping.
Why does this happen?
The GI tract is covered in microbial life, or flora, that plays an important role in nutrition and digestion. To understand where these symptoms originate and how they relate to flora, one must examine the journey food takes through the intestines.
In the small intestine, digestive juices and enzymes are secreted which help to break down fats into a desirable size (fatty acids). Fatty acids are then absorbed by the brush-border membrane of the intestinal lining.
When the partly digested food arrives in the large intestine, the flora helps break down what remains of the food into absorbable vitamins and minerals. When high fiber levels that the flora aren’t accustomed to enter the large intestine and colon, it leads to intestinal gas, bloating, and even cramping.
To avoid these undesirable effects, it is important to gradually introduce high fiber foods into one’s diet. High fiber levels can help clean out the intestines of food that has piled up overtime, which not only generates gas, but also contributes to body weight and GI inflammation.
Fiber Types and Effects
Fiber can be classified as either water soluble or water insoluble. It is the insoluble fiber that has the biggest impact on GI health and movement, coming primarily from nuts, grains, and their derived products.
Water soluble fiber has the biggest impact on circulatory health. It is associated with the reduction of glucose and LDL (low-density lipoprotein, or “bad” cholesterol) levels in the blood. This helps reduce risks factors that lead to circulatory complications such as heart disease and strokes.
Fiber Quality and Sources
Fiber coming from whole foods is always better than fiber in supplement form because it offers nutritional benefits beyond fiber itself. Fruits and vegetables for example, provide vitamins, minerals, some of the macromolecules of nutrition like protein and carbohydrates. Good sources of fiber include whole-grain products, beans, legumes, nuts, fruits and vegetables.
Try out oatmeal, a smoothie with an abundance of greens and fruits, sprouted grain toast, vegetables for breakfast to help stabilize blood sugar, keep the body satiated and regular! Check out Santa Cruz CORE’s Pinterest page for additional recipes.