Dietary fiber is high in phytochemicals, such as phenolics, lignans, beta-glucan, and inulin. Plant-secreted phytochemicals are not currently classified as essential nutrients, but they may play an important role in human health. The mechanism behind the role of dietary fiber in certain diseases and types of cancer is the subject of numerous studies.
Dietary fiber has numerous health benefits that include:
- Dietary fiber can help lower cholesterol. Thus, it can prevent heart disease and stroke.
- Dietary fiber can prevent spikes in blood sugar levels. It slows the progression of diabetes and may even prevent it from developing in the first place.
- Dietary fiber can help you maintain control over your bowel movements and can be used to prevent constipation and hemorrhoids. Some dietary fiber acts as a prebiotic, fermenting in the stomach and encouraging the growth of probiotic bacteria. Thus, it helps maintain gut immunity.
- Dietary fiber may help you feel full due to its capacity to retain water and swell. According to one study, a high-fiber diet can help you lose weight.
- A diet high in dietary fiber may help reduce the risk of cancer of the large intestine.
- There is mounting evidence that eating enough dietary fiber may be beneficial to mental health as well. A recent study discovered an inverse relationship between fiber consumption and depression, particularly among premenopausal women. Researchers hypothesize that the gut microbiota, which is influenced positively by a fiber-rich diet, may influence neurotransmission.
- A healthy gut microbiome has been linked to a stronger immune system. Dietary fiber may help you replenish good gut bacteria.
The American Heart Association recommends 25 grams of fiber per day for adults on a 2,000-calorie diet. Gender and age may influence your daily fiber consumption. Women younger than 50 years may need 21 to 25 grams of fiber per day, whereas men younger than 50 years may need 30 to 38 grams.
Four types of dietary fiber
There are numerous types of fiber, but the four most important for overall health include:
- Insoluble fiber: This fiber is not water-soluble and is not fermented by bacteria in the colon. Insoluble fiber instead retains water, promoting a larger, bulkier, and more regular bowel movement, which in turn may be beneficial in preventing conditions, such as hemorrhoids, and flushing the intestines as they pass through.
- Soluble fiber: Colon bacteria ferment or use these fibers as a food source for nourishment. When these good bacteria grow and thrive, they provide numerous health benefits in both the colon and body. Soluble fiber can be found in almost all edible plant foods.
- Prebiotic soluble fiber: Plant fiber that is soluble and has only lately been discovered. Inulin or fructan is the scientific name for this fiber. When this fiber is fermented by good bacteria in the colon, it provides extra considerable health benefits.
- Synthetic fiber: Synthetic fiber (calcium polycarbophil) is found in various supplements and processed meals. It is made from nondigestible carbohydrates that are comparable to their natural counterparts.
What are the side effects of a high-fiber diet?
Excessive fiber consumption can create certain symptoms and alter the way our gastrointestinal system functions in some people.
- Many individuals report intestinal gas and an increase in the frequency of their bowel movements. Excessive bloating and flatulence may occur.
- Inulin can cause abdominal discomfort and pain in sensitive individuals.
- Extra bulk in stools without enough water intake can cause intestinal blockages.
- People with gastritis may experience worsening symptoms after consuming fiber-rich foods because fiber slows gastric emptying.
- Excess fiber can cause rash and hives in some individuals.
- Dietary fiber Intake can negatively affect the absorption of nutrients in the intestine, causing deficiencies.
- It can reduce the efficacy of calcium and iron supplements and some antibiotics.
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