The body does not digest some carbohydrates and such carbohydrates are referred to as fibers or roughage. Fiber, unlike other carbohydrates, is not broken down by the body. There are two classifications of fiber, namely dietary fiber and functional fiber. Regardless of the classifications, both types of fiber are essential to the body. Functional and dietary fiber are seen to appear in two different states:
Soluble fiber – As the name suggests, this fiber is capable of dissolving in water. Some of its sources include leguminous plants such as beans, bananas and apples among other sources.
Insoluble fiber – This type of fiber do not dissolve in water but facilitates the quick flow of substances through the digestive system. Sources may include nuts, whole grain and whole wheat products.
What are some of the benefits of consuming fiber?
Listed below are some of the many health benefits associated with the consumption of both functional fibers as well as dietary fibers.
Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease
Soluble fibers reduce the amount of cholesterol absorbed into the body by facilitating the excretion of cholesterol by the body. This leads to the reduction of heart related diseases. Fiber is also proved to reduce risk of heart diseases by lowering the levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol, increasing HDL (good) cholesterol and as a result reducing metabolic syndrome.
Lowers the risk of diabetes
Dietary fiber is known to control the level of blood sugar in the body. For individuals without the type 2 diabetes, consumption of a diet rich in fibers is the best preventive step to take. Victims of the type 2 diabetes can effectively manage the condition by consuming foods rich in fiber.
Reduces occurrence of constipation
Fiber, also known as bulk, increases the bulk of your stool. This increases the ease of passing stool thus reducing constipation.
Reduces the risk of diverticulosis
Constipation is one of the causes of diverticular disease (development of ‘pockets’ in the bowel tissue). By reducing the occurrence of constipation, fibers assist in reducing the risk of diverticulosis and subsequent diverticulitis.
Reduces the risk of colorectal adenocarcinoma
This is more commonly known as colon cancer. Dietary fibers assist in balancing the pH and bacteria levels present in the intestines, thus protecting against cancer of the colon.
Facilitates weight control and reduces the risk of obesity
Soluble fiber when dissolved in water forms a gel like consistency. The gel-like substance coats other food substances in the digestive tract causing them to increase in volume. As a result, the food substances tend to move slower while in the intestines. This reduces the likelihood of frequent consumption of food thus controlling weight gain. In addition to this, fiber is known to reduce the amount of calories the body absorbs.
As you can see, there are many benefits to ensuring you eat plenty of fiber on a daily basis – but how much do you need? You can check out how much fiber you should be eating in this WebMD article and start eating your way to better health!