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What is Fiber?

Fiber is not a single substance. It is an enormous group of widely different chemical substances with varied physical properties. Fiber is divided into two basic types - soluble and insoluble. Foods differ in the type and amount of fiber they contain.

But all types of fiber have two things in common: they are found only in plant foods and they are resistant to human digestive enzymes (that is they pass through the digestive tract without being completely broken down).

While other basic foods are nearly all digested and absorbed as they pass through the small intestine, fiber enters the large intestine more or less intact. Being indigestible, fiber also contributes no nutrients to the body, and so for many years, no one thought removing it from food was bad (hence, the popularity of "softer" white bread over whole wheat).

But nutritionists have discovered that fiber performs valuable functions precisely because it is not digested.

Fiber Facts:
Insoluble fiber is like a sponge: it absorbs many times its weight in water, swelling up within the intestine. Insoluble fiber is found mainly in whole grains and on the outside of seeds, fruits, legumes, and other foods.

It is best to eat unrefined foods since insoluble fiber is key in promoting more efficient elimination by increasing stool bulk and may alleviate some digestive disorders.

Soluble fiber is found in fruits, vegetables, seeds, brown rice, barley, oats, and oat bran. It can help produce a softer stool, but does less to help the passage of food; rather, it works chemically to prevent or reduce the absorption of certain substances into the bloodstream.

Fiber Benefits:
Avoiding And Relieving Constipation Fiber can absorb large amounts of water in the bowels, and this makes stools softer and easier to pass. Anyone starting a higher-fiber diet will notice the difference in stool bulk.

In almost all cases, increasing fiber in the diet will relieve constipation within hours or days.

Because stools are easier to pass, less straining is necessary, and this can help relieve hemorrhoids.

Preventing Certain Diseases:
Getting enough fiber in the diet can lower the risk of developing certain conditions:

Heart disease:
Evidence is now growing to support the notion that foods containing soluble fiber (such as oats, rye barley, and beans) can have a positive influence on cholesterol, triglycerides, and other particles in the blood that affect the development of heart disease. Some fruits and vegetables (such as citrus fruits and carrots) have been shown to have the same effect.

Cancer:
The passage of food through the body is speeded up when fiber is eaten. Some experts believe this may prevent harmful substances found in some foods from affecting the colon and may protect against colon cancer. (However, a recent study conducted by Harvard University concluded that eating high-fiber food did not appear to protect people from colon cancer.)

Other types of cancer that are linked with overnutrition and may be prevented by a fiber-rich diet include breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and uterine cancer.

Diabetes:
Adding fiber to the diet helps regulate blood sugar levels, which is important in avoiding diabetes. In addition, some people with diabetes can achieve a significant reduction in their blood sugar levels and may find they can reduce their medication.

Diverticular disease:
Diverticular disease is a condition in which small pouches, called diverticula, develop in the wall of the colon. In a small percentage of people, these diverticula become inflamed or infected, a condition known as diverticulitis. Diverticular disease can cause pain, diarrhea, constipation, and other problems.

Gallstones and kidney stones:
Rapid digestion leads to a rapid release of glucose (sugar) into the bloodstream. To cope with this, the body has to release large amounts of insulin into the bloodstream, and this can make a person more likely to develop gallstones and kidney stones (in addition to diabetes and high cholesterol).

Keeping Weight Under Control:
Foods containing plenty of fiber have more bulk than low-fiber foods. If taken in the right form at the right time and at sufficient quantities, fiber can sometimes slow the onset of hunger.

BEST SELLER:
Yerba Prima's Soluble Fiber

STAFF PICK:
Nature's Way's Glucomannan Root



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