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The Enumerable Healthy Benefits of Dietary Fiber

Why eat dietary fiber? Are they safe to take? This is what most people would ask when other people suggest taking them. There are enumerable reasons as to why people should take dietary fiber in their food diet.

First, dietary fiber slows down the eating process because it demands that food be chewed thoroughly.
It helps contribute to a feeling of being full and in turn prevents us from overeating and obesity.

Secondly, since the contents of the stomach is bulkier and stay there longer, there is no need to eat every so often.

Also, dietary fiber helps maintain the blood sugar level evenly. How? Since digestion is slow, the way glucose in food enters the blood stream is slow as well. It also nourishes the lining of the colon since the simple organic acids produced in the breakdown of fiber in the colon maintains it. These acids also provide fuel for the rest of the body, especially the liver, and may have an important role in metabolism. These are just a few of the many effects it has to our bodies.

Another benefit we gain from including dietary fiber in our food is avoiding and preventing constipation and hemorrhoids. Fiber absorbs large amounts of water in the bowels thus stools are softer and easier to pass. In most cases, increasing fiber will relieve constipation within hours and days. Because stools pass easily, less straining is necessary and this can prevent hemorrhoids.

Increase in high fiber diet also lowers the risk of certain conditions. Foods containing soluble fiber positively influence cholesterol, triglycerides and other particles in the blood that affect the development if heart disease. Experts believe fiber may prevent harmful substances found in some foods from affecting the colon and may protect against colon cancer.

Diabetes is also prevented. Adding fiber to the diet helps regulate blood sugar levels, which is important in avoiding diabetes. In addition, it may help reduce their medical intake.

In a small percentage of people, some may suffer from diverticular disease that may cause pain, diarrhea, constipation and other problems. This type of condition is averted since our colon is protected by organic acids produced from fiber breakdown.

Therefore the safest way to diet is to take more fiber rich food rather than the low-fiber food. So why doubt the important effects of dietary fiber in our diet.

Dietary fiber is the portion of fruit, vegetables and grains that is indigestible. It can be divided into two main categories, soluble and insoluble fiber. The soluble part of dietary fiber gets converted into gases in the colon. However, the insoluble part of dietary fiber does not get metabolized in any way. Instead, it travels through the digestive tract and absorbs water along the way. It is responsible for the smooth passage of bowels as it keeps the feces soft and moist due to this action.

Plums and prunes are high dietary fiber foods. The skin of these plant products is a rich source of soluble fiber and the inner juicy pulp is rich in insoluble dietary fiber. High content soluble dietary fiber foods include pears, apples, legumes, sweet potatoes and onions. Broccoli, carrots, oats and barley also contain varying amounts of soluble dietary fiber. Sources of dietary fiber – the insoluble variety, include nuts, seeds, wheat bran, corn bran and whole grain foods. Cauliflower, celery, zucchini, green beans and avocado are also known for their insoluble fiber content. Potato skins and tomato skins also have traces of insoluble dietary fiber.

There are several dietary fiber benefits. The primary benefit of dietary fiber is that it does not cling to minerals and vitamins and thus, it does not restrict the absorption of these nutrients. Instead, it enhances the absorption of minerals, especially calcium.

 The benefits of dietary fiber also include weight control as it tends to reduce appetite by adding bulk to food. In addition, it prevents overeating as it slows down the eating process because foods rich in fiber need to be chewed thoroughly. Low fiber intake is believed to be linked with obesity. Insoluble fiber regulates digestion by speeding up the passage of foods through the digestive system. It also reduces the risks of constipation by adding bulk to the stools. This in turn, reduces the risks of hemorrhoids and anal fissures. Through this, it also improves gastrointestinal wellbeing. Soluble dietary fiber intake has the ability to reduce an inconsistency in the level of blood sugar as it slows down the absorption of glucose and traps carbohydrates from the foods consumed. Its ability to regulate blood sugar further reduces the risk of diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Fiber is also known to reduce glucose intolerance and enhances insulin response. Soluble dietary fiber also lowers bad cholesterol in the body and thus reduces the risks of cardiovascular disorders.

Dietary fiber intake also helps in reducing the risks of colon cancer. Keeping the benefits of dietary fiber in mind, the daily dietary fiber intake should be at least 18 grams per day for a healthy adult, as recommended by the British Nutrition Foundation. However, with changing lifestyle and busy schedules, most adults barely cross half this recommendation. For those who would like to keep track of their fiber intake in order to ensure that they consume the recommended proportion of dietary fiber, dietary fiber charts are widely available on the internet and can be referred to at any time.

Submitted on July 1, 2011
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