A lot of importance is placed on vitamins, minerals, and herbal remedies in our daily supplement, but one of the fundamental elements to good health is the quantity of fiber we eat.
The fiber we consume, called roughage, comes from grain husks, the skins and flesh of fruit and the tough, fibrous material in vegetables. It is unable to be broken down by our digestive enzymes and is there not yet absorbed into the system as it passes through the stomach and intestine. Fiber has very few nutrients or calories, and many packaged foods have processed the fiber out.
Two different types of dietary fiber exist, soluble and insoluble. Both types play important roles in keeping your digestive system running right. No particular food, not even popular bran, is a good source of all the beneficial types of fiber. Adults should eat about 25-30 grams of fiber per day. Still, the normal American, consuming the typical Western diet high in fats and carbohydrates, takes in only half of the amount needed. The National Academy of Sciences recently upped its fiber guidelines to 25g daily for women and 38g daily for men. For kids add 5g to your child's age for the correct amount.
Insoluble Fiber – Found in whole grain products, seeds, fresh fruits and veggies – provides bulk, making elimination easier and helping to prevent constipation. Scientists studying diets high in fiber and low in fat hypothesize that insoluble fiber may avoid various gastrointestinal difficulties and may reduce the risk of certain cancers.
Soluble Fiber – Soluble fiber has been proven to lower cholesterol. Found in oat bran and dried beans, it tends to slow down the release of food from the stomach, which helps keep blood sugar levels stable so that you do not have any feeling of fatigue and weakness linked with low blood sugar levels.
Brief Overview of How Fiber Works
– In the digestive system, fiber holds and absorbs moisture, it acts like a sponge, making the material of the colon softer and more bulky. This reduces the duration waste materials stay in our 30 foot span of intestinal tract and also eases their passage, reducing the pressure in the colon.
– Fiber reduces problems from constipation and diverticulitis which is a weakening if the wall of large intestine caused by pressure from hard stools and is commonly accompanied with infection. Fiber cleans the intestines by means of its natural scrubbing action.
– Fiber increases the time it take the substance to go through the colon and lowers the potential of dangerous effects from the large amount of drugs, food additives and chemicals in our diets. It also aids in removing harmful toxins released in digestion.
– A diet with good dietary fiber may lower blood cholesterol levels by assisting in reducing the transit period of dietary cholesterol through the gastrointestinal tract, minimizing the absorption of cholesterol from foods.
Fiber has an important part to play in maintaining a healthy body and is a crucial part of our daily intake. By increasing the bulk of fecal material, it encourages the efficient passage of waste products through the intestine. It also draws in water from the surrounding blood vessels, which softens the stools, making elimination more regular and easier, thus helping to prevent constipation and hemorrhoids. Foods high in fiber are filling, but low in calories, so they assist in the management of weight. By decreasing the absorption of digested fats, blood cholesterol levels are lowered, thereby reducing the risk of coronary heart disease.