Posted on Hello Wellness on Feb 15 2011 6:48PM
"I can eat a man, but I'm not sure of the fiber content," British commediene-author Jenny Eclair once said. Humour aside, fiber is one of the most important of dietary nutrients. Yet we do little to add it in our diet. We care for our vitamins, proteins, carbohydrates and even salt, but fiber? No.
What is fiber, exactly?
Fiber is made of plant cellulose, hemicellulose, pectin and lignin that are not completely digested. It can be either water-soluble or water-insoluble. Soluble fiber includes from fruits, vegetables, dried beans and peas, nuts, oat bran and seeds, lowers cholesterol and helps manage blood glucose. Water-insoluble fiber from wheat bran, wholegrain breads, cereals, vegetables, fruit skins and nuts is less-digested in the colon and helps with disorders such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Diverticulitis. It also shortens the time food is in the bowels and promotes more frequent bowel movements.
How does fiber help?
Eating 40-50 grams of fiber a day helps:
- satiate appetite: Fiber increases the chewing time and increases salivary and gastric juice flow. This decreases dental plaques and decay, satisfies the appetite more quickly and reduces calorie-intake.
- moderate digestion: Fiber affects the rate at which your stomach empties and the rates of digestion and absorption. Pectins increase the viscosity of the partially-digested food and decrease the emptying of the stomach, while wheat bran promotes more rapid emptying of the stomach.
- lower cholesterol: Fiber increases the removal of bile acids, decreases intestinal absorption of fatty acids and cholesterol and decreases cholesterol synthesis. Soluble fiber also binds cholesterol for elimination.
A high fiber diet improves diabetic control, reduces risk of constipation and heart attack and helps fight against colon cancer. Add it to your diet for a healthier life.