Dietary fiber, also known as roughage is a form of carbohydrate that doesn’t get easily digested. The significance of having a fiber-rich diet is to avoid make bowel movements regular and relieve constipation. However, boosting digestive health is not the only thing dietary fibers can do. Different types of dietary fiber have specific uses in ensuring the overall well-being of the human body.
Different Types of Dietary Fiber
Fiber can be water-soluble and insoluble. Both kinds have distinct roles to play in the human body.
The soluble fibers play an important role in preventing sudden spikes in blood sugar levels. That’s the reason why it’s considered to be integral in a diabetic’s diet.
Several studies have proven that soluble fibers are also capable of reducing LDL cholesterol which is largely responsible for causing atherosclerosis and cardiovascular diseases. They bind with unhealthy fats in the diet and eliminate them from the body via feces. They are found in the chewable and fleshy portion of most fruits, vegetables, and grains.1
Varieties Of Soluble Fiber
Soluble fibers are of several types and the following are the common ones you need to know.
- Inulin oligofructose: It is a byproduct of chicory root and beet sugar. It can also be extracted from. It acts like prebiotic to increase good bacteria for gut health.
- Mucilage and beta-glucans: Both are soluble fibers derived from beans, peas, barley, flaxseed, berries, soybeans, bananas, oranges, apples, carrots, and oats. They have scientifically proven to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and high blood cholesterol.
- Polydextrose polyols: Often found in processed foods as a bulking agent and sugar substitute. It can also add bulk to stools and prevent constipation.
- Psyllium husk: A popular fiber found in the husk of Plantago ovata plant. It has the ability to lower cholesterol and make bowel movement s regular.
- Resistant starch: A fiber that’s known for being very filling and good at blood sugar regulation. It’s naturally found in unripened bananas, oatmeal, and legumes.
- Wheat dextrin: Derived from wheat starch, it is commonly added to processed foods as fiber.
Insoluble fiber is found in bran and peels of grains, fruits, and vegetables that are hard to chew. Therefore almost any fruit and vegetable peel is filled with insoluble fiber. Almost all whole grains with bran and husk intact are also high in insoluble fiber. Dried fruits like dates and prunes are also filled with insoluble fiber that’s why they are considered to natural remedies for constipation.2
Varieties Of Insoluble Fiber
Insoluble fiber varieties are much lesser in nature when compared to soluble fiber.
- Cellulose: Known as “Nature’s Laxative”, it’s naturally found in nuts, whole wheat, whole grains, bran, seeds, edible brown rice, skins of produce. It’s helpful in relieving constipation and the risk of diverticulitis and makes you feel fuller for longer.
- Lignin: It’s an insoluble fiber that’s found naturally in flax, rye, some vegetables. It can enhance the health of the heart and digestive system.
Recommended Daily Intake Of Fiber
Fiber demands of your body vary with increasing age. Infants can be given fiber-containing foods after the age of 1 in minimal amounts. In adults, it’s estimated that for every 1000 calories that’s consumed, 14 grams of fiber is needed.3
Precautions Before Consuming Fiber
If you are on a typical Western diet, your fiber needs are less likely to be fulfilled. Many resorts to including fiber supplements in their diet on a regular basis instead of consuming natural sources of fiber. Here are a few precautions to take while increasing your fiber intake.
- Not drinking enough water while taking high-fiber foods or fiber supplements can cause stools to harden, thereby increasing constipation.
- If you are on medications for diabetics or diabetes, take fiber an hour before or after drug intake. Too much fiber can hinder the absorption of these drugs.
- Increase fiber intake gradually or else intestinal issues like bloating and cramps can occur.
- If you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, raise your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables to meet your fiber requirements.
Make fiber an organic part of your diet to get the most out of the several health benefits it has. Try to increase the natural fiber intake instead of relying on supplements.
|↑1||Dhingra, Devinder, Mona Michael, Hradesh Rajput, and R. T. Patil. “Dietary fibre in foods: a review.” Journal of food science and technology 49, no. 3 (2012): 255-266.|
|↑2||Anderson, James W., Pat Baird, Richard H. Davis, Stefanie Ferreri, Mary Knudtson, Ashraf Koraym, Valerie Waters, and Christine L. Williams. “Health benefits of dietary fiber.” Nutrition reviews 67, no. 4 (2009): 188-205.|
|↑3||Fiber and Children’s Diets. American Heart Association|