The human body needs many things to stay in optimal health. What you consume into your body may be the most important factor to staying healthy for a long time. There are countless vitamins and minerals that support a healthy body. This article is going to focus on something that is very important but is often forgotten: fiber!
What is Fiber and How Does It Work?
There are two types of fiber that the body can use. Those two types are soluble and insoluble.
Soluble Fiber is fiber that can be absorbed into the body, similar to how the body absorbs other vitamins. Soluble fiber is found in foods such as bread, oats and unripe bananas. This fiber helps to stabilize blood glucose levels, normalize insulin levels, and can lower blood cholesterol.
Insoluble Fiber is fiber that cannot be absorbed into your body. Instead of doing its work in your bloodstream, insoluble fiber stays in your intestines. As it travels through the curves of your intestinal track, it pushes and pulls solid materials through your body and pushes it out through your colon. The result is regular bowel movements, no constipation and better absorption of other vitamins and minerals.
High Fiber Foods
The easiest way to get fiber into your body is through the foods that you consume. Here are the top 3 fiber rich foods:
1. Beans- A good combination of soluble and insoluble fiber, beans are good for your heart and good for your digestive system.
2. Strawberries- These juicy berries contain lots of vitamins on the inside of the fruit. On the outside, plenty of fiber can be found in the hundreds of tiny seeds that each strawberry has.
3. Bran Cereal- Take one look at bran cereal and you can see how it would help to keep your digestive system regular. Buying cereals fortified with other minerals will boost the health benefits that can be gathered from each bowl.
For an added boost of fiber, powdered fiber supplements are available that can be mixed into drinks and smoothies.
Beware of Too Much Fiber
Even good things can be detrimental if you consume too much of them. Consuming too much fiber can result in bloating, constipation, and loose stools. Experiencing loose stools means that your food did not get enough time to digest before your fiber intake pushed it out.
Feeling bloated and/or constipated usually indicates dehydration. Luckily, an easy remedy is to drink more water!
Most spicy hot foods such as chili peppers, habaneros and cayenne peppers contain capsaicin, which is not broken down and digested, especially in the seeds, and that is what burns your entire digestive tract from when it first enters your mouth until it leaves.
Capsaicin stimulates the lining of the stomach to produce more of its natural juices to protect itself against the capsaicin. This is actually good, because this process kills the bacteria in the stomach would could cause disorders of your bowels. However, it is painful for people who already have ulcers. (Contrary to the prevailing myths, spicy foods do not cause ulcers. That culprit is a bacteria named Helicobacter pylori. However, spicy foods do make ulcers hurt worse.)
Capsaicin does irritate the linings of the small and large intestines where food goes after leaving the stomach. For many people, especially those who often eat hot spicy foods and who therefore have forced their alimentary canals to adapt to the stress, the irritation is minor and they don’t even notice. But other people, especially those who don’t often eat spicy hot foods, are sensitive to it. The body reacts to the irritation by sending extra water to the intestine to prevent damage to the lining. Also, the irritated intestinal lining moves the food along faster than usual, resulting in diarrhea. There is no medical evidence that eating capsaicin does permanent injury to intestinal linings. The capsaicin continues to irritate sensitive inner tissue all the way through the end, so it continues to burn even as someone is eliminating it.
People who continue to have the problem may be suffering from irritable bowel syndrome. They suffer from loose stool, bloating and abdominal pain when they eat hot foods, plus dairy, caffeine, and fatty and oily foods.
There are many ways to reduce the gastrointestinal discomfort of eating spicy foods. If people drink a glass of water before eating, that will help dilute the juices in the stomach.
Dairy foods help to neutralize the capsaicin. Therefore, drinking milk or eating yogurt, curd, ghee, buttermilk, sour cream or ice cream after eating the hot foods can help prevent diarrhea. However, people who are lactose intolerant should not consume any product containing milk. Consuming coconut milk, which is common in Thai food, can also help neutralize capsaicin. Eating rice gruel or bread along with the hot spice should also alleviate its impact on the digestive system.