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2018-03-07 / Columnists

Staying Well with Doc Surrell

Health Benefits of Fiber, Fluids

There are many health benefits that come from taking in enough dietary fiber and fluids every day. Here are two medical terms you need to know:

Ingestion is the process of taking food or drink into our bodies.

Digestion is what happens to the food or drink in the human digestive system after we’ve consumed our food or drink.

Fiber – Remember that dietary fiber is something you ingest, that the human body cannot digest. In our body, this dietary fiber acts like a sponge to absorb fluids. The fiber in our food or drink enters the stomach, passes through our small intestine and enters the colon.

If there is excess fluid in the colon (diarrhea), the dietary fiber absorbs the excess fluid and makes for more formed stools and stops the diarrhea. If there is not enough fluid in the colon (constipation), the dietary fiber absorbs and keeps more fluid in the colon, and this makes for more frequent, softer and easier-to-pass bowel movements.

Therefore, because of the way fiber absorbs fluid, it will correct both diarrhea and constipation. Our digestive system needs fiber to work properly, and we should take in about 25 grams of dietary fiber every day.

Excellent sources of dietary fiber include whole grain and whole wheat breads, fresh vegetables and fruits and high-fiber cereals.

Original Fiber One Cereal is an excellent choice with 14 grams of dietary fiber and zero sugar in a single halfcup serving. If you’re not a cereal eater, try using this product as healthy croutons on your tossed salad.

I personally take one heaping teaspoon of sugar-free Metamucil every single day and highly recommend this to my patients. It’s certainly okay to use a store-brand version of this product as well.

Fluids – Our human body is about 60 percent water, and we need to replace this water and rehydrate ourselves every day.

Every system in our body needs water to function properly. Water carries nutrients to all our cells and provides the fluid necessary for the proper function of our lungs, muscles, eyes, ears, mouth, throat, digestive system and all body tissues.

A good guideline is that we are well hydrated if we feel the urge to urinate during the day about every two to three hours. Further, our built-in thirst mechanism is very reliable; therefore, if we feel thirsty, we may be low on fluid and possibly dehydrated and our body is telling us to drink more fluid.

Unless you’re on a fluid restriction from your healthcare provider, drink at least 60 ounces of fluid every day. Your fluids may be water, coffee, tea, low-sugar juices or other fluids. This can be done easily by having 12 ounces of water or other fluid with breakfast, lunch and dinner and 12 ounces of fluid mid-morning and mid-afternoon.

Also, by not drinking too much fluid in the evening, this likely will reduce the need for you to get up to urinate during your normal sleep time.

Recall that our human body is about 60 percent water, and we need to replace this water and rehydrate ourselves every day. Again, if you’re on a fluid restriction from your healthcare provider, be sure to consult with him or her regarding how much fluid you should have every day.

Remember, fiber and fluids are your healthful friends. We need about 25 grams of dietary fiber every day and about 60 ounces of fluid every day. Remember to drink water with meals and throughout the day.

Once you make this “fiber and fluids” program part of your daily routine, you’ll enjoy the many health benefits of proper hydration and be strongly motivated to continue.

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