Fiber is a substance which is found commonly in the external layer of the plants. It is nothing but the cell walls of the plants. It is these cell walls which provide the external structure of a plant. Fiber is a kind of carbohydrate which will not be broken down into nutrients even after it had entered your digestive system. As we know that carbohydrate is an important source of energy for the body functions, the role of fiber in our diet is also inevitable.
Fiber has direct impact on your digestion process right from the beginning itself. Since the fiber demands food to be chewed thoroughly, naturally the eating process will be slowed down. This in turn gives you a feeling of full stomach and there by preventing you from over eating. Thus we can say that fiber diet checks obesity.
Even though you consume a little amount of fiber diet, it remains there in the stomach for a longer time. Consequentially the digestion process gets slow down. As a result of this glucose enters very slowly into your blood stream. Thus fiber helps to keep the blood sugar level under control.
The fiber which you consume gets ultimately broken down in the colon by the act of bacteria. Organic acids released during this breakdown helps to strengthen the colon. These acids also have a substantial role in metabolism and also provide energy to the remaining organs especially the liver.
Fiber holds the nutritious parts of the plant, especially those parts which include starch, sugars, vitamins, and minerals. Only plants have the ability to produce fiber. Therefore you cannot find even a trace of fiber in meat regardless of how good, tough or chewy the meat may be.
Fiber is broadly classified into two categories-insoluble and soluble fibers
Insoluble fibers are produced by plant cells which in turn cannot be dissolved in water. It is a good laxative agent. Insoluble fiber is rich in whole grains, wheat, nuts, bran muffins, and in a wide variety of vegetables.
Soluble fiber on the other hand is made up of polysaccharides which get easily dissolved in water. It is good at lowering blood sugar and cholesterol level. It is rich in fruits such as apples, lemons and oranges and also in barley grain, oats and beans. Studies have found that soluble fiber is good in controlling the blood cholesterol level.
Advantages of fiber in your diet
- Fiber avoids constipation as it makes the stool soft. Fiber ensures a free motion and hence the removal of waste from your body. With in one or two days after increasing the fiber content in your diet, you can notice a considerable difference in the size of the stool. What the fiber will do is that it absorbs the excess water present in the bowels. This in turn makes the stool softer and makes motion easier. Constipation is thus a not a problem and can be solved just by increasing the fiber content in your diet.
- As constipation is avoided it minimizes the chance of getting colon cancer. Similarly when more fiber is included in your diet, it makes the stool easier to pass with out any strain, which helps to cure hemorrhoids.
- Fiber is also good at preventing the diseases such as heart attacks, cancer, diabetes, kidney stones etc.
The recommended level of fiber consumption is 25 grams per day. Normally most of us did not even consume half of that. Most of the food items are rich in fiber but when they are processed or transformed they lose most of the fiber content. For e.g. wheat is naturally rich in fiber but when it is transformed in to flour it loses considerable amount of dietary fiber. So try to consume the food without losing its fiber content. In case of vegetables eating either raw or half cooked will do the best.