Fiber is your friend!

Nikki Sommer, a nurse with Key West Surgical Group, joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5 FM for Medical Matters this morning.

Fiber keeps everything flowing smoothly in your system.

Sommer said, “There are two different types of fiber, soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber can help lower your blood glucose levels as well as lower your blood cholesterol. Foods with high soluble fiber include oatmeal, chai seeds, nuts, beans, lentils, apples and blueberries.”

Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that the body can’t digest.

Sommer explained, “Fiber cannot be broken down into sugar molecules. Instead it passes through the body undigested, but it helps to regulate the body’s use of sugars helping to control hunger and blood sugar.”

Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water.

Sommer said, “It can help food move through the digestive system and prevents constipation. Those foods are like whole wheats, quinoa, brown rice, legumes, leafy greens, kale, almonds, walnuts, seeds, fruits, and the skins of like pears and apples.”

We should get at least 25 to 38 grams of fiber each day.

Sommer noted, “But I found a fun fact. Prehistoric man and I guess because they lived off the land ate between 77 to 120 grams of fiber a day. I don’t know how they came up with that. But I thought that was funny.

Mike Stapleford from KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM laughed, “So they’d just be walking along and pluck a plant.”

Sommer laughed, “I guess so.”

For those of us in modern times, to get the right dose of fiber, we should reach for fruit, vegetables, beans and whole grains.

Fiber supplements can help.

Sommer said, “It’s good if you can’t get it into your diet. And I’m not good at saying oh, let me count how much fiber I had today. I don’t think anybody does. That’s the last thing on everybody’s mind.

Metamucil and Citrucel have what’s called psyllium fiber. That can help regulate your bowels, keeping you regular and if you’re too stopped up and you can’t go, it does the opposite effect. If you take the fiber, it’ll help you go. If you’re going too much, it will do the opposite of that. It’ll prevent it.”

Constipation can aggravate hemorrhoids, so being regular is important.

Sommer added, “Psyllium can help regulate blood sugar and it’s good for people with diabetes and lower cholesterol. So psyllium has more than one avenue to treat. It can treat not just keeping you in check, it has been known to help reduce blood sugar and cholesterol.”

Metamucil has a taste, but Benefiber does not.

Sommer said, “So Benefiber is a white powder that completely dissolves in any liquid cold or hot. You can’t taste it at all so it’s really easy. Some people will choose that one over Metamucil because it’s tasteless and odorless.

Stapleford said, “But Metamucil has cookies.”

Sommer laughed, “Metamucil does have cookies and I just discovered the cookies when we did the health fair for the city. We gave out little packets of On the Go Benefiber and Metamucil cookies. They’re kind of good. They’re apple crisp and chocolate. I highly recommend them if you’re a Cookie Monster. Who said cookies were bad?”

Stapleford said, “That’s awesome. Is it the Cookie Monster who’s grouchy? No, it’s Oscar who’s grouchy. He must be constipated. He needs work.”

Fiber can also help post-surgery.

Sommer said, “A lot of times if you have issues going to the bathroom and you have surgery, the biggest complaint after surgery is constipation. So it’s good to try and have a good bowel regimen leading up to and after because anesthesia slows your gut and then if you take pain medicine, that slows your gut. I get phone calls all the time. I haven’t gotten in five days. And it’s kind of an emergency, which it is because it’s uncomfortable. So keeping yourself regular is very important.”

So, always remember, fiber is your friend.