Fiber in terms of diet refers to a form of carbohydrate that is present in plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and legumes. Fiber is also spelled “fibre” in some nations. Fiber cannot be digested or absorbed by the body like other kinds of carbohydrates, so it moves through the digestive system mainly undigested.
Dietary fiber comes in two primary varieties: soluble and insoluble fiber.
- Soluble fiber: This kind of fiber dissolves in water and congeals in the digestive tract to create a gel-like substance. Foods like oats, barley, beans, lentils, fruits, and veggies all contain soluble fiber. Soluble fiber has a variety of health advantages, some of which include controlling blood sugar levels, reducing cholesterol, and fostering feelings of fullness.
- Insoluble fiber: This kind of fiber does not dissolve in water and generally remains intact as it passes through the digestive system. Foods like whole grains, nuts, seeds, fruits, and veggies all contain insoluble fiber. Insoluble fiber helps maintain regular bowel motions and prevents constipation, among other health advantages.
There are other kinds of fibers besides soluble and insoluble fiber, including resistant starch and oligosaccharides. A form of starch called resistant starch can help the development of good gut bacteria by resisting digestion in the small intestine. The growth of good gut bacteria can be encouraged by oligosaccharides, a type of carbohydrate that is only partially digested in the small intestine. For the complete range of health advantages linked to fiber consumption, it’s crucial to include a variety of fiber types in the diet.
The effect of fiber on diet and general health
Dietary fiber has a wide range of positive impacts on health in general. The following are some of the major impacts of diet fiber and overall health:
- Healthy digestion is encouraged: Fiber gives the stool bulk, which can aid in promoting normal bowel motions and preventing constipation. Diverticulitis and other digestive issues can also be avoided with its assistance.
- Reduces the chance of heart disease by lowering cholesterol levels: Soluble fiber can bind to cholesterol in the digestive system and stop it from being absorbed.
- Blood sugar levels are regulated by soluble fiber’s slower rate of absorption into the circulation, which can aid in controlling blood sugar levels and preventing blood sugar spikes.
- Aids in managing weight: The bulk that fiber provides to the diet can aid in promoting feelings of satiety and limiting overeating. Additionally, compared to other carbohydrates, it has fewer calories, which can aid in lowering daily calorie consumption.
- Reduces the risk of chronic diseases: Research has shown that eating a diet rich in fiber lowers the risk of developing chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and some types of cancer.
- May lower the risk of some cancers: A high-fiber diet has been associated with a lower risk of some cancer forms, including colon cancer.
- Enhances gut health: Fiber encourages the development of good bacteria in the gut, which can enhance gut health and lower the risk of inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
- Increases satiety: Fiber makes you feel fuller for longer and curbs your appetite, which aids in weight reduction and management.
- Some research indicates that fiber may enhance immunological function by lowering inflammatory levels in the body.
- High-fiber diets may aid to improve cognitive function and lower the risk of age-related cognitive decline, according to some studies.
It is crucial to remember that consuming too much fiber can harm the digestive system and cause bloating, gas, and pain. As a result, it is advised to progressively increase your fiber intake to give your body time to adjust. To help avoid constipation when eating a high-fiber diet, it’s also critical to drink enough water.