What is Fiber?
Fiber is an indigestible carbohydrate. Dietary fiber is made up of the components from plant foods the body can’t digest or absorb. Unlike most carbohydrates, fiber cannot be broken down into sugar molecules, and instead passes all the way through the digestive tract. Seemingly unimportant, fiber has been found to play a critical role in maintaining our physiology. Over the past 50 years research has moved fiber from a useless indigestible waste product to the fundamental defender to our digestive and cardiac system.
What Does Fiber Do?
- Keeps You Regular: Dietary fiber works to soften stool and add to its overall mass, thereby reducing the chance for constipation by making the stool easier to pass Fiber conversely also helps solidify watery stool by absorbing water and adding to the bulk of the stool.
- Maintains bowel health: A high-fiber diet helps push things down your colon, lowering the risk of developing hemorrhoids and diverticular disease.
- Lowers cholesterol (LDL): Soluble fiber may help lower total blood cholesterol levels by lowering low-density lipoprotein
- Heart Health: Cholesterol has been shown to lower blood pressure and reduce inflammation, major contributors of heart disease.
- Controls blood sugar: Soluble fiber slows sugar absorption thereby lowering overall blood sugar levels. A diet including insoluble fiber may also reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
- Maintains weight. High-fiber foods tend to be more filling than low-fiber foods, increasing satiety for a longer period of time. High-fiber foods also tend to take longer to eat due to the fiber grains (think of how long it takes to eat celery!). High fiber foods are less “energy dense,” which so have fewer calories for the same volume of food because you cannot actually digest fiber.
How does Fiber Work?
Types of Fiber:
- Soluble fiber: This fiber dissolves in water to form a gel-like material.
- Insoluble fiber. This fiber promotes the peristalsis throughout the digestive system and increases stool mass.
Where is fiber found?
Tip: You can lose a lot of the fiber from fruits and vegetables by juicing them! Try to eat whole fruits and vegetables, or switch to smoothies instead of juices!
How much fiber should I have?
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