Dietary fibers can be explained as indigestible complex carbohydrates that come in plant cell walls. Digestive enzymes in the body are unable to digest them. Fiber is important to our bodies despite providing no nutrients or calories. Science as since identified two types of fibers previously soluble and insoluble fibers. Insoluble fiber is not soluble in water. It contains components normally ligin, cellulose and hemicellulose. Soluble fiber is soluble in water and components found in this type of fiber include pectin, gum and mucilage.
In terms of sources fiber is derived from fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans. There are some foods that contain more fiber than others. In particular oat bran, barley, kidney beans, and black-eyed peas have more soluble fiber than wheat bran, brown rice, lettuce and spinach. Soluble fiber has a particular important role that it plays which reduces the risk of heart disease by decreasing blood cholesterol levels. The exact mechanisms of how this happens is when soluble fiber binds to bile acids in the intestines resulting in them being eliminated. This leaves fewer bile acids available leading to the liver drawing cholesterol from the bloodstream to make more. This resultant reduces the level of blood in cholesterol.
Further soluble fiber has the effect of delaying stomach emptying helping stabilize blood sugar levels in individuals with diabetes. This has the ultimate effect of lower insulin requirements by slowing the rate of carbohydrate absorption improving blood sugar regulation. Fiber has yet another role of helping soften stools and stops constipation in the case were individuals drink adequate fluids.
In particular insoluble fiber is thought to possibly decrease the risk of colon cancer by increasing the speed f elimination. This reduces the amount of time cancer causing substances medically known as carcinogens are in contact with intestinal cells. Stool contents including carcinogens became diluted and less harmful. Fiber is known to bring about a feeling of fullness which is beneficial because it adds no calories. This helps in reducing the risk of being overweight, obesity and severity of diabetes.
There are specific amounts of fiber intake that are recommended. On average adults consume 12 to 18 grams per day. The recommended amount is 14g per 1000 calories consumed. Eating more beans, vegetables, fruits and whole grain cuts and cereals can help in meeting this recommended amount. It is highly recommended that if you have not been taking enough fiber you consider starting doing so because of these important benefits.