A regular daily intake of fiber helps keep our bowels working regularly and prevent constipation. By providing bulk and softening stool, the pressure of hard bowel movements is eliminated.
Fibre forms a gel in the intestine, which results in the binding of bile acids, an important ingredient among the juices in the body. When an insufficient amount of bile acids reach the liver, the liver converts the cholesterol present into bile acids, there by reducing the cholesterol level.
Fiber can also reduce chances of getting colon cancer. Increase of fiber in diet prevents overeating, therefore you should eat foods high in fiber. Soluble fiber can reduce cholesterol and control blood sugar level in people with diabetes. In countries where the diet is high in fiber, bowel cancer, irritable bowel syndrome, overweight, heart disease and diabetes are very rare. Also as fiber is filling, high fibre foods stop you feeling hungry too soon.
Types of Dietary Fiber:
Not All Fibers are alike. They can be divided into two categories: insoluble fiber and soluble fiber. Both are important for health. Foods contain different amount and type of fiber. Some foods are better sources of one type than the other. For example, oat bran contains about 50% soluble fiber of the total, but wheat bran contains only 20% soluble fiber of the total fiber. Both types of fibers are important for good health.
Insoluble fiber is a coarse material that does not dissolve in water. It is a roughage. It helps:
Prevent Constipation: Insoluble fiber should be taken with enough water. It swells and softens the stool and stimulates the intestinal muscles to relieve constipation. Fiber is a very good constipation remedy.
Prevent Intestinal Disorders: Insoluble fiber reduces pressure in the intestine by increasing the movement of food through the intestine.
Prevent Intestinal Cancer: Increasing the bulk and speed of food moving through the intestinal tract reduces time for harmful substances to build in intestine. This may help prevent cancer of the colon. See cancer types.
Soluble fiber is made up of sticky substances like gums and gels and dissolves in water. It helps:
Lower Blood Cholesterol: Studies have shown that foods high in soluble fiber can lower the blood cholesterol of people who are on a lowfat, low cholesterol diet. Soluble fiber probably increase the passage of bile acids through the digestive tract and cholesterol is taken out of the blood. Scientific studies have shown that oat bran, oatmeal and beans significantly reduce blood cholesterol. Corn bran, carrots and apples can also reduce cholesterol.
Control Diabetes: Increased soluble fiber with complex carbohydrates in meals can make the hormone insulin work better resulting in slowing down the release of food into the intestine and keeps the blood sugar from rising rapidly. This allows patients to take less diabetes medication.
High Fiber Foods:
Brans- wheat bran, oat bran, corn bran, rice bran. eat high fiber foods from the list of high fiber foods.
Low Fiber Foods: Refined Items- White flour (bleached/unbleached), pasta, cream of wheat, oat flour, cornstarch, white rice. Health experts recommend 20 to 30 grams of fiber each day.
Our Daily Need Of Fiber:
A healthy adult body needs about 25-30 grams of fiber a day, assuming that we need 12 grams of fiber a day for every 1000 calories consumed. However, most people consume only about 10 grams. Children need different amounts of fiber at different ages. A child's daily fiber requirements can be calculated by adding five to the age of the child. For example, a seven year old child needs 7+5=12 grams of fiber daily. Both the adults and children should add fiber to diet.
Eating 25 g of dietary fiber daily will help lower your risk of heart disease, as well as some types of cancer and type 2 diabetes. Eating about 30 g of fiber a day can reduce your risk of getting breast cancer by 50%.
Adding too much fiber in your diet too quickly can cause constipation, diarrhea and bloating, intestinal gas and other digestive discomforts. These side effects are, however, not serious and usually go away after a short period. Drink lots of water.
Hi. Thanks for the fiber overview. Any thoughts on fiber and gut microflora, and the impact on immune health? I write an immune "balance" blog and am always interested in material/thoughts on this. Gut health is a big determinent of immune system function. Thanks.