Dietary fiber is an essential nutrient for everyone’s diet. Dietary fiber is the indigestible portion or roughage of food from plants. Many people know that fiber is extremely important for our diets; however, few know the health benefits and the sources of fiber.
Studies have shown that a fiber-rich diet as part of a balanced eating pattern may help prevent some chronic diseases, like heart disease, diabetes, obesity, diverticulitis, constipation, and even some types of cancer. Also, a fiber-rich diet can help promote weight loss.
Soluble Fiber vs. Insoluble Fiber:
Soluble fiber – This fiber dissolves in water to create a gel-like substance, delaying the emptying of the stomach. Soluble fiber is able to bind to the fatty substance cholesterol and promote excretion, which seems to help lower LDL (“bad”) blood cholesterol. Glucose absorption is also slowed, which helps control blood sugar levels.
Insoluble fiber – This fiber is known as “roughage” because it gives plants their firm structure. Insoluble does not dissolve in water, rather, acts like a laxative, aiding in the passage of food and waste through the gut. This prevents potentially harmful substances from lingering in the intestines. With water, insoluble fiber adds bulk to your diet and softness to your stool, preventing constipation.
How much fiber does one need?
The amount of total dietary fiber one should consume is between 25 to 35 grams from food, not supplements. The goal is to consume both soluble and insoluble fiber because both have equal importance in attaining a well-balanced diet.
Be careful to not overdo it. Though fiber does help with weight loss and heart disease, eating more than 50 to 60 grams of fiber can decrease the amount of vitamins and minerals being absorbed in the body. Also, large amounts of fiber can result in gas, diarrhea, and bloating
When increasing your fiber intake, do it gradually. Sudden increase of fiber can result in diarrhea and bloating. Lastly, be sure to drink water! Fiber teams up with water in order to have its magical properties.
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Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: Feb. 19, 2014
Last updated: Aug. 16, 2015
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