For many years, people have know that fiber is good for you and you should eat it. But what a lot of people didn’t know is just how good it is, and just how much you should consume. A diet high in both soluble and insoluble fiber has numerous health benefits.
By definition, soluble fiber is a type of fiber that attracts water and turns to a gel upon combination, which slows digestion. This type of fiber is commonly found in oat bran, barley, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, peas, and some fruits and veggies. The common fiber supplement Metamucil is also a soluble fiber.
Insoluble fiber is therefore just the opposite. This type of fiber is able to make it through the digestive tract relatively undigested. It adds bulk to the stool, and helps foods pass through more quickly. Insoluble fiber can be found in wheat bran, vegetables, and whole grains. Both types of fiber are important to maintain good health.
Diets high in fiber have been shown to help lower the risk of developing coronary heart disease as well as cardiovascular disease. This is due to fiber’s ability to significantly lower LDL cholesterol levels in the blood. High fiber diets have also been shown to lower the risk of developing diabetes.
Other benefits of a high fiber diet include better appetite control, improved body weight control, and improved regularity and laxation.
Some fibers can also be classified as a prebiotic. Prebiotic’s are a relatively new term in the health world. Many people have heard of probiotics, the bacteria that lives in your large and small intestines? Well prebiotics are the food for those probiotics. It is suggested that high prebiotic diets can reduce the duration and frequency of antibiotic associated diarrhea, reduce symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease, promote weight loss and prevent obesity, and enhance the bio availability and absorption of some vitamins and minerals.
The American Dietetic Association recommends that men between the ages of 18-50 consume 38 grams of fiber per every 1000 calories of food. For women, they recommend 25-26 grams per 1000 calories of food. Now that’s a lot of fiber….
Slavin, J. (2008) Position of the American Dietetic Association: Health Implications of Dietary Fiber. J Am Diet Assoc. 2008;108: 1716-1731.
Slavin, J. (2013). Fiber and prebiotics: mechanisms and health benefits.Nutrients, 5(4), 1417-1435.