What is Dietary Fiber? Benefits, Foods and Alternatives Rich in Fibers
What is Dietary Fiber?
Dietary Fiber is also known as roughage or bulk, fiber, or dietary fiber, is that portion of food derived from plants that you can’t digest or absorb. Your body can digest the other compounds in your food like fats, proteins, and carbs. But fiber simply passes intact through your small intestine and colon and out of your body.
Types of Fiber
There are two main types of fiber found in foods: insoluble and soluble.
Insoluble fiber is found in whole grains and on the outside of seeds, fruits, legumes, and other foods. It is also called roughage. Its job is to hold onto water in your digestive system. It uses this water to move waste through your intestine and get rid of all of the toxins and material that your body doesn’t need.
The other type of fiber is soluble fiber. It is found in fruits, vegetables, seeds, brown rice, barley, oats, and oat bran. It works by passing through the intestine and forming a “gel” like substance. Fiber and digestive enzymes made by the liver form this gel.
Benefits of Dietary Fiber
Fiber can also keep you full and reduce your appetite, which can eventually lead to healthy weight loss. Fiber achieves this by nourishing the gut bacteria. Healthy gut bacteria have a role to play in weight management.
Relieves Constipation and Improves Bowel Health
Increasing the amount of fiber in your diet can increase the number of stools you pass and this is one sure way to treat constipation. Whole grain foods work best for easing constipation. Dietary fiber improves bowel health and bowel movement.
Helps Fight Diabetes
Fiber can never elevate your sugar levels. Because it can’t be digested. It can reduce the impact carbs can have on blood glucose levels. The intestines take a lot more time to digest fiber-rich foods, and this slows down the release of glucose into your bloodstream.
Reduces Heart Disease Risk
Dietary fiber can lower cholesterol levels and protect the heart. It can, in fact, prevent
We know that fiber helps the waste travel faster through the colon and out of the system. This waste can also contain carcinogens, and as fiber accelerates their excretion, it can help in cancer prevention.
Foods Rich in Diatry Fiber
Fiber contents shown below on the high fiber food chart are for a food quantity of 1/2 cup unless otherwise noted:
- Bananas, 3 grams – medium 8″ long
- Beans, 6-10 grams – baked beans, black beans, great northern beans, kidney beans, garbanzos, pinto beans, white beans
- Berries, 4-5 grams – blackberries, raspberries
- Bran Cereals, 5-10 grams – All-Bran, Bran Buds, 100% Bran, Raisin Bran
- Bread, 4-7 grams – 2 slices whole wheat, pumpernickel, seven-grain
- Broccoli, 4-5 grams
- Brussels Sprouts, 2 grams
- Carrots, 3-4 grams
- Dried Figs, 10 grams – 3 figs
- Fruit, 4 grams – medium apple, medium pear
- Green Beans, 2 grams – broad beans, pole beans, snap beans
- Greens, 4-6 grams – beet greens, collards, kale, spinach, turnip greens
- Lentils, 6 grams
- Lima Beans – 4-6 grams
Dietary Fiber Alternatives
Many individuals may find it difficult to obtain an adequate amount of fiber from food sources alone. In the United States, the average dietary fiber intake for children and adults is less than half of the recommended daily amounts. As a result, some individuals elect to use the various fiber supplements on the market to maintain normal bowel function and prevent or decrease constipation.
Fiber supplements can cause abdominal bloating and gas, at least initially. If you have intestinal problems, such as a history of a bowel blockage or Crohn’s disease, talk to your doctor before adding a fiber supplement to your diet. It’s also a good idea to ask your doctor or pharmacist whether fiber supplements interact with any medications you take.
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