Fiber - Nature's
more to fiber than preventing constipation. Here's a quick guide to the
rough gem in your diet ?
What is Fiber ?
Dietary fiber, also known as
roughage or bulk, includes all parts of plant foods that your body cannot
digest or absorb. In that case, does fiber provide any benefits ? The answer
is a resounding "Yes"! For starters, your meal would have less crunch and be
less filling without fiber.
Interestingly, dietary fiber is
found only in plant foods : Fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains. Meat, milk
and eggs do not contain fiber.
Fiber is the same
One way to categorize fiber is by
how easily it dissolves in water. Soluble fiber partially dissolves in
water. Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water.
up on Fiber
Both insoluble and soluble fibers
add bulk to the stool. A larger, bulkier stool passes through the colon more
easily and requires less pressure ( and straining ) to be expelled during
defecation. This puts less stress on the colon wall and thereby avoids the
ballooning effect that causes diverticulosis – a condition characterized by
pouches of the intestinal wall that can become inflamed and painful.
Sufficient fiber intake also prevents the formation of hemorrhoids (swollen
and inflamed veins around the anus or lower rectum ) and varicose veins
(permanently enlarged, twisted and painful veins, most often in the legs).
Insoluble fiber soaks up water,
adding bulk to the stool and keeping it moist and easy to eliminate. This
makes it easier for the intestines to move matter out of your system more
quickly and, thereby, prevents constipation.
Soluble fiber dissolves in water
to form a gel-like material. It is like a sponge, absorbing fluid as it
moves through the lower gastro-intestinal tract, which results in softer,
bigger stools, and often less training the toilet.
benefits of Fiber
Fiber is not just important for
less training while on your "porcelain throne". Its other benefits are as
• Some soluble fibers interfere
with fat and cholesterol absorption, lowering blood cholesterol and
protecting the heart.
• Some soluble fibers help lower
blood sugar levels and may aid insulin sensitivity.
• Fiber protects the lining of the
colon and seems to prevent development of cancerous cells.
• High-fiber-diets may be useful
for people who wish to lose weight. Fiber itself has no calories, yet
produces a "full" feeling because of its water-absorbing ability. For
example, an apple is more filling than half a cup of apple juice that
contains the same amount of calories.
• Foods high in fiber often require more
chewing, so a person is unable to eat a large amount of calories in a short
amount of time.
Different types of plants have
varying amounts and kinds of fiber. How the plants are processed is also
important. Canned and frozen fruits and vegetables contain just as much
fiber as fresh ones.
While the following foods have
both soluble and insoluble fibers, some have a higher content of one type of
- oat bran
- nuts and seeds
• dried peas
• wholewheat breads
• brown rice
- wholegrain breakfast
- wheat brain
Based on nutrition studies, it
may be best to eat at least 30 grams of fiber daily. Reaching this goal
requires a balanced, plant-based diet.
Choose at least five vegetable
and fruit servings, and at least three small servings of wholegrains such as
oatmeal, brown rice or wholewheat bread. Enjoy a small handful of nuts and
seeds a few times weekly.
Reference Intakes (DRI) for Fiber
|18 + years