Author: Geetanjali (M.Sc. Foods & Nutrition Dietitian & Nutritionist)
Fiber is the indigestible part of plant foods that pushes through our digestive system, absorbing water along the way and easing bowel movements. It is also known as roughage. Fiber is eliminated from the body in the intestinal waste. Sometimes called roughage or bulk, fiber adds almost no fuel or energy value to the diet, but it does add volume.
Eating more than 50gms of fiber a day can interfere with mineral absorption, leading to problems such as Anemia & Osteoporosis.
TYPES OF FIBER:
- SOLUBLE FIBER– are the gel forming pectin, gums and some hemicellulose found in fruits, beans, oat bran and vegetables like peas etc. A diet rich in soluble fiber helps in controlling obesity, stroke, diabetes, cancer & gastrointestinal disorders.
- INSOLUBLE FIBER- does not dissolve in water. As it goes through the digestive tract it does not change its form. Cellulose, Hemicellulose and Lignin are the examples. It can be found in the peel of Apples & grapes, wheat bran & whole grains. It gives stool its bulk and thus, prevent Constipation.
3-5 vegetable servings, 2-4 fruit servings & 6-11 grain servings daily recommended because these are excellent sources of fiber also provide minerals, vitamins & phytochemicals.
Smart Choice of Dietary Fiber:
- Have oatmeal or whole-grain cereal for breakfast; top with some fresh fruit.
- Eat fruits and veggies raw and with skins for more fiber.
- Munch on popcorn when you need a snack.
- Switch to brown rice from white rice.
- Replace white pasta with whole-wheat pasta and add vegetables in it.
Benefits of Fiber in the Diet:
- High fiber diet decreases weight in obese patients because it is low in calories or due to increased satiety.
- Fiber ingestion by diabetic patients leads to some delay in gastric emptying, improvement in glucose intolerance and reduction of hyperinsulinemia and hyperlipidemia.
- Soluble fiber decreases serum Cholesterol & LDL cholesterol levels (Low Density Lipoproteins).
- Speeds up the elimination of toxic waste through the colon.