Fiber, also known as dietary fiber, is often described as roughage. Fiber is the part of plant-based foods that the body cannot
digest or adsorb like it can with proteins, fats or carbohydrates. Because fiber cannot be digested, it passes through the body from the stomach, to the small
intestine, through the colon and out the body in a somewhat complete state.1 2 There are two kinds of dietary fiber:1 2
- Soluble Fiber - Soluble fiber forms a gel substance in the digestive system which helps to slow down digestion. Soluble fiber is found in foods like nuts, beans, apples, citrus fruits, cucumbers, carrots and blackberries.
- Insoluble Fiber - Insoluble fiber doesn’t dissolve and therefore, adds bulk to the digestive system helping to promote healthy stools. Insoluble fiber can be found in foods like leafy green vegetables, green beans and celery.
Fiber Health Uses and Health Benefits
Though essential for digestive health, there are other important fiber health benefits to consider when it comes to a well-rounded
diet. Here are some of the top fiber health benefits:1 2 3
- Manages blood sugar and cholesterol levels
- Lowers risk of heart disease and stroke
- Helps in weight loss
- Improves skin health through healthy excretion
- Reduces intestinal inflammation
- Improves bowel movements including fiber for constipation and diarrhea prevention
- Lowers risk of hemorrhoids
- Reduces Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) symptoms
- Reduces risk of developing kidney stones and gallstones
These important fiber health benefits make it an essential dietary element. Adding fiber to your diet can help to manage and prevent
other diseases and conditions. Some of the top fiber uses for health and disease-prevention include:
- Breast Cancer - Studies have shown that there is a possible link between high-fiber diets and the prevention of breast cancer in women. Ensuring that you are consuming the recommended daily fiber amount can help to lower the risk of developing breast cancer.
- High Cholesterol - One of the known fiber uses for health is its importance in lowering and regulating cholesterol levels. Proper intake of soluble fiber can help to lower levels of bad cholesterol.
- Colorectal Cancer - Studies have shown a link between high dietary fiber intake and a lowered risk of colon cancer. Fiber can help to regulate digestive health and prevent polyps - a possible cause of colorectal cancer.
- Constipation - Insoluble fiber for constipation is one of the most well-known fiber uses for health. High-fiber diets regulate bowel movements and prevent constipation.
- Diabetes - Soluble fiber slows the rate of sugar absorption in the body, which helps lower blood sugar levels. This can help to prevent and manage type 2 diabetes.
- Diarrhea - Just as fiber for constipation is important so too is fiber for diarrhea. High-fiber diets regulate bowel movements and produce healthier stools while preventing diarrhea.
Fiber Side Effects and Precautions
While it is important to healthy digestion, fiber side effects can include bloating and gas when consuming too much. To avoid fiber
side effects it’s important to slowly increase your fiber intake over time. To avoid potential fiber side effects be sure to consume plenty of water to keep
your body hydrated and your stools healthy.