Health Benefits of Dietary Fiber - Complex Carbs
Advantages of Soluble & Insoluble Fiber in Daily Diet

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Health Benefits of Dietary Fiber

Dietary Fiber - Types of Dietary Fiber - Best Sources of Dietary Fiber - Daily Fiber Needs - Fiber & Weight Loss
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Polysaccharides - Complex Carbs - Simple Carbs - Benefits of Carbohydrates - Starch - Sugars

The health advantages of a diet containing sufficient dietary fiber are becoming more apparent. At the same time, the health risks of fiber deficiency are becoming equally noticeable. It is surely no coincidence that the average American diet - which is partly responsible for the present US obesity epidemic - is deficient in fiber. According to the US Dept of Agriculture, the average American woman eats about 12 grams of fiber a day - less than half the recommended daily amount.

Benefits of Soluble Fiber

The health benefits of water soluble fiber occur largely in the early part of the digestive system (stomach and small intestine) and include the following:

  • Soluble fiber slows down digestion in the stomach and small intestine. This helps to slow down the conversion of other carbohydrates into glucose, thus stabilizing blood glucose levels. The presence of fiber in carb-rich foods actually lowers the glycemic index of that food. By slowing down the digestive process in the stomach thus forcing nutrients to spend more time in the digestive zone, soluble fiber may also increase the uptake of minerals and other nutrients in food.

  • Soluble fiber forms a thick gel when it comes into contact with water in the digestive tract. This swelling-effect, allied to the slowing down of the digestive process, increases our feeling of fullness (satiety) without adding calories. Fiber is therefore a useful element in any healthy weight loss diet.

  • Soluble fiber appears to reduce blood cholesterol levels. This is because the fiber binds with bile acids and cholesterol in the digestive tract, preventing them from being absorbed by the body.

  • Soluble fiber may also have cancer benefits. Modified citrus pectin, when fed to rats, appeared to reduce the size of tumors. In some as yet unknown way, the pectin appears to interfere with cancer cells linking together to form tumors.

Benefits of Insoluble Fiber

The health benefits of insoluble dietary fiber occur largely in the later part of the digestive system (colon) and include the following:

  • Insoluble fiber improves the health of the intestinal tract by increasing stool volume and stimulating normal bowel contractions (peristalsis) thus reducing transit time through the colon. This protects against digestive complaints like constipation, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and diverticulitis.

  • By accelerating the speed of food through the intestinal tract, insoluble fiber may help prevent digestive disorders such as constipation or diverticulosis (infection caused by food getting stuck in small pouches in the wall of your colon. It may also reduce the absorption of salt (thus reducing the risk of raised blood pressure) and toxins.

Health Benefits of Fiber - Summary

Higher fiber diets appear to be associated with fewer digestive complaints, better blood-sugar control, lower blood-cholesterol levels and reduced rates of colon cancer, heart and kidney disease. However, excessive fiber intake brings its own problems. Bottom line: Follow the recommended guidelines for fiber intake and, if using fiber supplements, take only carefully measured doses.

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Fiber in Diet
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Nutrition & Carbohydrate
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Insulin Resistance Syndrome provides general information about different types of carbohydrate, like monosaccharides, disaccharides, oligosaccharides, polysaccharides, as well as nutritional value of carbohydrates, carb-content of foods, plus details of GI values of all food groups, plus advice about diabetes, impaired glucose tolerance and insulin resistance. But no information is intended as a substitute for medical advice. Copyright 2003-2021.