We’ve all heard we need fiber, so why do so many of us not get enough? Is it because the Standard American Diet features an ever-increasing variety of processed, fiber stripped foods? Or maybe it’s because not enough people know where to get fiber or truly understand why it’s part of a healthy diet. Well, that all changes today once you learn the facts about fiber.
Dietary fiber, often referred to as “roughage,” is the edible portion of plant cell walls that is resistant to digestion, but is an extremely beneficial component of our diets. Fibers such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, and whole grains also have high amounts of vitamins and minerals necessary for healthy body function. And of course, a huge side benefit of eating foods rich in fiber is that they taste good.
Not only does fiber ward off many diseases, but it’s also been shown to aid in weight loss, by reducing food intake at meals. This is because fiber-rich foods take longer to digest and thus result in an increased feeling of fullness and satiety. In addition, the more gradual absorption slows the entrance of sugar into the bloodstream, thereby preventing large blood glucose and insulin spikes that can lead to binge eating.
There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Both soluble and insoluble fibers are undigested, meaning they are not absorbed into the bloodstream. Instead of being used for energy, fiber is excreted from our bodies. Although neither type is absorbed by the body, they do have different properties when mixed with water, hence the differentiation between the two. Soluble fiber is “soluble” in water and has many benefits including moderating blood glucose levels and lowering cholesterol. Insoluble fiber does not absorb or dissolve in water and offers many benefits to intestinal health, including reduction in the risk and occurrence of colorectal cancer, hemorrhoids, and constipation. Examples of food rich in soluble fiber are fruits, vegetables, brown rice, barley, and nuts. Insoluble fiber comes from cereal grains.