Fiber 101 – Types, Key Benefits and Food Sources

fiber

There are 2 classes of fiber:  Soluble & Insoluble 

Soluble fiber is sticky and meshes with water to form gel. 

It includes pectins, guar, mucilages, and the fiber in oat bran, barley, dried beans, and other legumes. 

Insoluble fiber absorbs large amounts of water, as much as 15 times their weight and hence creates sift bulky stools. 

Wholewheat, wheat bran products, and the skin of fruits and vegetables are primary sources of insoluble fiber.

What’s Covered Here:

There are 2 classes of fiber: Soluble & Insoluble 

Why Is Fiber Important?

Fiber is known to play an important role in the following areas of health:-

Cardiovascular Disease 

Consistent adequate fiber intake has been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease through the lowering of LDL cholesterol levels in your body. 

Testing has also shown that it could reduce bio-markers like blood pressure for heart disease. 

Water-soluble fibers like guar gum, beta-glucan, psyllium are the most effective at lowering serum LDL cholsterol without affecting HDL levels.

Type II Diabetes and Glycemic Control

Large scale studies involving thousands of people have concluded that people who consumed more than 15 g of fiber on a daily basis had significantly lower risk of diabetes. 

People who consumed more than 17 g of insoluble fiber a day or more than 8 g of cereal fiber a day had lower risk of type II diabetes.

Laxation and Regularity

Plays an important role in the natural laxation by increasing stool weight. 

This will make the stool larger and softer to be easily released from your body. 

It will reduce the risk of constipation.

Appetite Control

Some fiber-rich foods provides greater satiation since they take a longer time to chew. 

This will make you feel fuller and reduce your intake of food. 

Some soluble fibers absorb water and make you feel bloated to reduce your food intake. 

Body Weight  

Since a higher fiber intake is associated with a higher consumption of fruits and vegetables, it plays an important role in promoting healthy weight in individuals.

Cancer 

Many reports in the 1970s have associated an increased risk in colorectal cancer due a lack of fiber in your diet. 

However, there is no concrete evidence that this link exists.

Prebiotic Effect and SCFA Production

Some fermentable fibers like inulin,  oligofructose and FOS are known as prebiotics. 

They alter the composition of your intestine flora by promoting the growth of good bacteria. 

Promotes the production of Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFA) which helps to maintain your colonic health, regulates the absorption of sodium and water, enhances the absorption of calcium and other minerals. 

Immune Function and Inflammation

The production of SCFAs also improves your immune function by increasing your resistance to illness and infection. 

Soluble, non viscous fiber may help to alleviate the symptoms of inflammatory conditions like irritable bowel syndrome. (1) 

How Much Fiber Do I Need?

The recommended fiber intake for both children and adults is 14 g/1000 kcal. (2)

Types of Fiber & Their Health Benefits

types of fiber
Source: (3)

References

  1. Slavin, J. (2013, April 22). Fiber and prebiotics: Mechanisms and health benefits. Nutrients. Retrieved March 2, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3705355/

  2. Anderson JW;Baird P;Davis RH;Ferreri S;Knudtson M;Koraym A;Waters V;Williams CL; (n.d.). Health benefits of dietary fiber. Nutrition reviews. Retrieved March 4, 2022, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19335713/

  3. WebMD. (n.d.). Types of fiber and their health benefits. WebMD. Retrieved March 4, 2022, from https://www.webmd.com/diet/compare-dietary-fibers

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