What Is Dietary Fiber?

Fiber is a crucial part of a healthy diet. Dietary fiber has a number of health benefits; it helps keep your colon healthy, lowers blood sugar and blood cholesterol levels, and can help control weight. Read on to learn more about dietary fiber.

Dietary Fiber Defined

Dietary fiber, or roughage, consists of the parts of plants that your body can’t digest and absorb. Fiber passes all the way through your digestive tract to come out of your body intact. It’s present in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and other plant based foods.

There are two types of dietary fiber, insoluble and soluble fiber. Insoluble fiber helps food move through your digestive system and increases the size of bowel movements, so it’s good for those who have problems with constipation. Soluble fiber is soluble in water; it dissolves into a gel-like substance. This type of fiber helps lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels, so it can be good for heart disease and diabetes.

Dietary Fiber and Your Health

Even though your body doesn’t digest or absorb dietary fiber, it still plays an important role in your diet. Dietary fiber helps to maintain colon health; insoluble dietary fiber makes your bowel movements larger and easier to pass, reducing constipation. Insoluble fiber can also improve watery stools. Insoluble fiber helps prevent hemorrhoids and diverticular disease; it may also prevent colon cancer.

Soluble fiber helps lower blood cholesterol levels and can ease inflammation and reduce blood pressure. Soluble fiber inhibits your body’s ability to absorb sugar, so it helps to control blood glucose levels.

Dietary Fiber and Your Weight

Dietary fiber helps you control your weight. Because it takes longer to chew, you’re less likely to overeat. High fiber diets also make you feel full longer, and they’re lower in calories.

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