Please do not confuse between fibers that are used to make our apparels or fiber optics or any other product where the word fiber is used as this article aims to focus upon the fiber and dietary fiber that is considered to be beneficial for our bodies. There are many health benefits of fibers that will be harped upon in this article.
There are all sorts of food items that are part of our dietary intake and this includes items that cannot be broken down into small units to be digested completely by our digestive system. These food items contain what is known as fibers. There are fibers that do not easily dissolve in water and are considered as tough fibers. There are fibers that do dissolve in water such as mucilage, gums, and pectin. Both varieties of fibers are collectively called dietary fibers. There are other confusing terms associated with fiber also that complicate the matter. There is crude fiber, which is what laboratory testing comes up with when testing a food item. Finally there is functional fiber that is a term used to refer to not just dietary fibers but also other fibers made artificially in labs. Artificial fiber is added to packed foods to enhance their nutritional values by manufacturers.
Contrary to the belief that it is our body that works on these fibers, it is friendly bacteria living in our digestive tract that breaks down dietary fibers. Some byproducts are released into our bloodstream as a result of this breakup of fibers. There are many health benefits of fiber in our diet. They help in prevention and control of constipation, reduction in cholesterol levels, treatment of hemorrhoids and diverticulosis. Plants, fruits, nuts and some grains are rich sources of fiber for human beings.
Insoluble fiber takes up water and makes passage of stool easier for us. Thus it is considered to be of great help in preventing constipation. Inflammation of intestinal walls, called diverticulosis, can be prevented with a high fiber diet. Fibers also bind cholesterols in themselves and take them away from our bodies thus reducing the risk of high blood pressure. Pectin and gums have been found to be more effective in lowering blood cholesterol levels. There are also claims that fibers help in reducing cancers. This has been particularly true about colon cancer.
One important effect of high intake of dietary fibers is control of weight. When an overweight person increases dietary fiber intake, he feels full for a long time thus avoiding food items. This helps in reducing his weight which is why doctors advice to increase intake of dietary fiber to reduce weight. An apple contains fibers but apple juice contains only calories and no fiber. Thus for an obese person, it is better to eat apples rather than drinking apple juice.
Fiber vs Dietary Fiber
• Food items that cannot be easily digested by our bodies are termed as fibers
• Fibers can be tough such as those that do not dissolve in water though there are fibers that do dissolve in water easily such as pectin, gum and mucilage.
• Taken together both varieties of fibers are called dietary fibers.
• Fibers are considered to be beneficial for us as they help in easy passage of stool thus preventing constipation and hemorrhoids.
• Dietary fibers also help in reducing cholesterol levels in our blood.