Fiber, also known as our dietary fiber, “roughage” or “bulk” is an important part of a healthy diet of an individual. It falls under the category of carbohydrates, however, in comparison, it does not provide the same number of calories, and, unlike carbohydrates, fats, and protein that when taken, is broken down and absorbed by the body, fiber isn’t digested by our body, but instead, passes through the body with very little change.
There are actually two classifications of dietary fiber: SOLUBLE and INSOLUBLE. Each of this helps your body in different ways, that’s why it is important to have both sources in your diet.
Can be digested by your body. When it passes through the digestive tract, it is broken down into a gel-like substance that traps substances related to high cholesterol. Some of the sources of this are the following: legumes (peas, beans, lentils, soybeans), broccoli, potato, oats, barley, berries, bananas, apples, citrus fruits etc.
Can’t be digested. This type of fiber does not dissolve in water. It promotes movement/peristalsis in your digestive tract and increases your stool bulk, thus, making it useful in preventing and relieving constipation and/or irregular bowel movement. Like a sponge, fiber absorbs water and makes stool heavier, speeding up the passage in our digestive tract. Sources of insoluble fiber are: whole wheat food, (bread), bran, nuts, green beans, cauliflower, etc.
IMPORTANCE OF FIBER TO THE BODY:
Aside from preventing heart diseases, diabetes, weight gain and some forms of cancer, fiber has many other benefits for our body, making it a must-add to our diet.
- Trying to lose weight? Adding fiber to your diet helps you feel fuller for longer, making you stay away from carbs and other food for longer. This happens as fiber requires more chewing time compared to other food—this enables your body to register/notice when you’re not hungry anymore, and thus, helping you avoid overeating.
- Fiber in the diet helps our body to excrete waste out of our system and helps in cleaning your digestive system. It prevents you from having constipation and hemorrhoids as it normalizes bowel movement. It helps by adding bulk to your stool (softens the bulk of your stool, making it easier to pass through the colon) which, because it can now pass easier, speeds up elimination.
- Soluble fiber is said to help lower cholesterol levels in your body, specifically, the “bad” cholesterol, also known as LDL (low-density lipoprotein).
- Soluble fiber also helps lower down your risk of developing type 2 diabetes (Non Insulin Dependent) as it helps control your blood sugar levels. People who already have diabetes can also benefit from this as fiber (soluble) helps slow down your absorption of sugar, and thus, improving the levels of sugar in your blood.
- To top these helpful benefits, studies have also shown (and are continuously being made) to know and discover how fiber possibly protects us from cancer.
Isn’t it amazing? A high-fiber diet is not one where you need to eliminate other food, but rather, you just have to incorporate and get used to having it to your daily choices of food in your menu. After seeing these health benefits among others, wouldn’t you want to include it in yours?
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