What is fiber?
One of the topics that I find myself talking a lot about with clients is fiber as it is essential to healthy eating. Fiber is a nondigestible substance that reduces the risk of many chronic health conditions, including diabetes mellitus, heart disease, constipation, diverticulosis, obesity, and certain cancers. It is found in fruits, vegetables, beans/legumes, bran, oats, and whole-grain products.
Dietary recommendations for daily fiber intake is 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men.
Insoluble vs Soluble
There are two different types of fiber: insoluble and soluble. Both types provide the health benefits detailed below, in fact getting a miz in your diet is the best approach. Soluble fibers dissolve in water and are fermented by intestinal bacteria while insoluble fibers do not, instead they are more viscous. Soluble fiber examples include the cellulose that makes up the meat of an apple or the lignins in beans. Insoluble fiber examples include the pectins in vegetable skins or citrus fruits.
The Physiology Behind the Benefits
I personally feel that understanding the body and the science of good nutrition helps to motivate people to follow through. I hope that at least one or two of these motivate you!
- Fiber helps to moderate blood cholesterol levels. How? In the digestive tract fiber holds onto bile salts (a compound that helps digest fat) which end up being excreted instead of reabsorbed. This means your body uses cholesterol from the blood to create new bile salts.
- Fiber slows the release of food from the stomach during digestion, in turn this slows the absorption of glucose in the blood stream and improves blood sugar control.
- Fiber helps keep things moving in the digestive tract so that potential cancer promoting substances spend less time in contact with the intestinal lining.