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The Role of Fiber in the Diet for Boosting Energy Levels

fiber dietBecause fiber is not one of the three macro-nutrients, it is often overlooked at the role it plays in boosting our energy levels. And because fiber itself does not have any calories, it does not produce energy on its own. Most people associate fiber with helping promote good stool movements and that is one role it plays. 4076

Types of fiber

There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. As you can guess, the soluble type dissolves and forms a gel-like material in the colon. It helps to lower cholesterol and reduce blood sugar levels. Typical foods with this type of fiber include oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots and barley. 4077

Insoluble fiber increasea stool bulk and promotes the movement of that bulk through the digestive system, making it easier for people prone to constipation to have bowel movements. Food with insoluble fiber include whole wheat, nuts, and vegetables, like cauliflower, green beans and potatoes. Many of the plant-based foods contain both types of fiber like oatmeal and beans. 4078

Amount of fiber

The amount of fiber one needs not only varies by gender, but also by age. For adult men 50 and younger they should consume 38 grams per day; 51 and older, 30 grams. For adult women 50 and younger, 25 grams; 51 and older, 21 grams. 4079

But how does fiber boost energy levels?

To answer this question, we must dig into Anatomy 101. The body likes a steady flow of nutrients that it can use. According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, complex carbohydrates break down more slowly and provide that steady flow of nutrients 4311 . Once the digestion process starts, the pancreas senses the influx of nutrients and releases just enough insulin to move those nutrients to the cells where they can be made into energy by the mitochondria. This process is called metabolism. 4307

However, if we eat simple carbohydrates that typically do not have much fiber (sugar), they dissolve fast, and the blood stream is instantly flooded with insulin. However once the nutrients are gone, energy levels drop dramatically, which is known as the sugar crash. 4308

It just so happens that many of the complex carbohydrates are also high in fiber. So not only do the complex carbohydrates dissolve more slowly, but the fiber also helps even out the flow of nutrients, thus preventing a spike in blood sugar. This more even flow of nutrients, lasts longer, thus keeping up metabolism, which in turn keeps energy levels high. 4309

So, while fiber does not provide energy in its own rite, it assists in creating an even flow of nutrients this keeping the metabolism high for a longer period of time. 4310

 

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