Health Effects of Eating Fiber

Published: 14th February 2006
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What is Fiber?

Fiber is the indigestible part of all plant foods, including fruits, vegetables, grains, and beans. It is not found in meat or any other animal foods. Most Fiber-rich foods contain both soluble and insoluble Fiber. Soluble fiber dissolves in water in your intestinal tract, forming a glue-like gel. Dietary Fiber is the term for several materials that make up the parts of plants your body can't digest. Fiber is classified as soluble or insoluble.When eaten regularly as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, soluble Fiber has been shown to help lower blood cholesterol. Oats have the highest proportion of soluble Fiber of any grain. Foods high in soluble fiber include oat bran, oatmeal, beans, peas, rice bran, barley, citrus fruits, strawberries and apple pulp. Insoluble Fiber doesn't seem to help lower blood cholesterol. However, it's an important aid in normal bowel function. Foods high in insoluble Fiber include whole-wheat breads, wheat cereals, wheat bran, rye, rice, barley, most other grains, cabbage, beets, carrots, Brussels sprouts, turnips, cauliflower and apple skin. Many commercial oat bran and wheat bran products (muffins, chips, waffles) contain very little bran. They also may be high in sodium, total fat and saturated fat. Read labels carefully.

Nutrition Facts
As long as a balanced selection of foods from each of the basic food groups is chosen, the High Fiber Diet is nutritionally adequate. Some studies indicate that excessive intake of certain dietary Fiber sources may bind and interfere with the absorption of the following minerals: calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, selenium, and zinc. However, there appears to be no problem for those adults who follow a balanced, regular diet. Occasionally, a physician may prescribe supplements.

The Use of Fiber in the Irritable Bowel
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is one of the most common disorders of the lower digestive tract. There is no disease present with IBS, but it creates bothersome symptoms such as altered bowel habits constipation, diarrhea, or both alternately. There may also be bloating, abdominal pain, cramping, and spasm. An attack of IBS can be triggered by emotional tension and anxiety, poor dietary habits, and certain medications. Increased amounts of Fiber in the diet can help relieve the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome by producing soft, bulky stools. This helps to normalize the time it takes for the stool to pass through the colon. Liquids help to soften the stool. Irritable bowel syndrome, if left untreated, may lead to diverticulosis of the colon.

Health Effects of Eating Fiber
Long heralded as part of a healthy diet, Fiber appears to reduce the risk of developing various conditions, including

    • Heart Disease

    • Diabetes

    • Diverticular Disease

    • Constipation.

    • Gastrointestinal problems.

    • Irritable bowel syndrome.

    • Parkinson's disease.

    • Indigestion.

    • High blood pressure.

    • High cholesterol.

More Detail About Fiber

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