When you hear dietary advice it almost always includes a call to get the right amount of Dietary fiber each day. But what exactly is dietary fiber? What is it that makes fiber such an important part of a healthy diet? Fiber is really a generalized term that refers to all the edible parts of plants that at the same time are indigestible. So you can’t digest it? Then what’s the point in eating it?
Non Starch Polysaccharides to give them their scientific name are found in fruits vegetables and grains. They are broken down in the intestines but don’t provide any nutritive value. What they do well though is to help the digestive tract function at it’s best. They have also been shown to prevent many serious diseases. If your digestive system is working well then your immune system also functions better.
A diet that is high in fiber will help you to feel full and so discourage weight gain. Too little fiber can lead to constipation. Too little fiber will also mean that you are consuming too much processed starch and fats and be prone to putting on weight.
When you consume good amounts of fiber then you reduce the risk of hemorrhoids and other bowel problems. What is the right amount of fiber? Most nutritionists agree that we need around 30g of fiber per day. You can get this amount from eating cereals fruit and vegetables. For example two apples is around 6grammes of fiber, a banana 3g, a salad 2g, bran cereal 5g.
There are two types of fiber- Soluble and insoluble. A balance of both types is important. Soluble fiber is broken down and the fatty acid by products that enter the bloodstream actually help to lower cholesterol levels.
The insoluble type of fiber absorbs large quantities of water as it passes through the intestine and so adds bulk to the waste. This acts to clean out your intestine and may play a vital role in colon health. It speeds up the elimination of waste which is thought to prevent colon cancer