The Benefits Of Fiber
Lucy and I are enjoying time in Carmel this week, walking on the beach, shopping, reading and relaxing while we are staying at our favorite spot, The Hideaway. Gaining a better understanding of the role fiber plays in my diet, I have been contemplating the importance of fiber in Lucy’s diet. Did you know that fiber can help with constipation, diarrhea, diabetes, and anal sac impaction in addition to promoting and maintaining overall health? The benifits of fiber include but are not limited to: adding bulk to the stool, renewing the cell lining of the intestinal wall, feeding good bacteria of the intestinal tract while suppressing the growth of pathogenic bacteria.
There are two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber attracts water and forms a gel, slowing digestion and delaying emptying of the stomach. Dietary sources of soluble fiber include oats, bran, flaxseeds, psyllium, and chia seeds. It is important to adequately rehydrate these types of fibers prior to feeding them to your animal to prevent dehydration. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to the diet aiding constipation and GI detoxification. Dietary sources of of insoluble fiber include whole grains, vegetables, such as okra and pumpkin, barley, brown rice and fruit.
Constipation results in feces that are dry, hard, and difficult to eliminate as a result of excess moisture being eliminated by the colon. Fiber relieves constipation because it retains moisture, loosening the feces and stimulating bowel emptying. Fiber also aides diarrhea by absorbing extra moisture in the stool. Some fiber breaks down to fatty acids which helps to prevent overgrowth of harmful bacteria in the intestinal tract. This has the added benefit of reducing exposure to toxins that may cause cancer.
Anal sac impaction can be resolved when fiber is added to the diet. Fiber promotes complete emptying of the anal sac by bulking up the stool. Before manually emptying anal sacks try increasing fiber in your animal’s diet. Blood glucose levels in the diabetic animal can be helped with addition of dietary fiber. Fiber binds sugars in the GI tract and helps to increase insulin sensitivity.
Fiber, the indigestible part of the plant, increases the bulk of fecal material and helps produce normal bowel movements. Fiber can comprise 15 to 20 percent of your animal’s meal. However the individual dietary needs of your dog or cat need to be your ultimate guide. It is important not to increase fiber at the expense of other important nutrients.