Importance Of Dietary Fiber

Dietary Fiber And Its Natural Benefits

Although fiber is not a nutrient in the usual sense, we need fiber in our diet to maintain a good health. Fiber can only be found in foods of plant origin and it cannot be broken down by the human digestive tract. Its main function is to help maintain a healthy digestive tract. Fiber collects waste and large amounts of water as it passes through the digestive tract and thus makes elimination quicker and easier. About 30 to 35 g of fiber are recommended everyday.

 

There are two types of fiber:

Water soluble fiber which is found in fruits, vegetables, oats, oat bran, barley, dried beans and peas helps in blood cholesterol and blood sugar regulation.

 

Water insoluble fiber which is found in skins of fruits and vegetables, whole wheat products and seeds increases the rate at which food passes through the digestive tract.

 

Soluble fibers (pectin, guns, mucilage) found in fruits and some grains dissolve in water to form a gel. This gel slows the rate at which food leaves the stomach and the rate at which it moves through the intestines.  Soluble fibers also help control blood cholesterol and sugar levels, the latter useful for people with diabetes.

 

Insoluble fiber (cellulose, hemicelluloses, lignin) which is found in all plants and cereal foods do not dissolve in water. They tend to absorb water and increase bulk, hence speed up the rate at which food passes through the digestive tract. They make the contents of the bowel bulkier and softer and therefore easier to pass. This helps to prevent constipation and other diseases of  the colon.

 

Eat at least four servings of whole grain breads and cereals, four servings of vegetables and four servings of fruits everyday to make sure we get the benefits of all the different types of fiber.