What Is Dietary Fiber?


Poster of Insoluble and Soluble Dietary Fiber

Dietary Fiber, often referred to as roughage, is an indigestible complex carbohydrate that comes from plants. Fiber can be classified by two main components: soluble and insoluble. All plants contain some fiber and both types of fiber play a major role in changing how nutrients are absorbed by the body. Although best known for preventing constipation, regular consumption of fiber lowers your risk of diabetes and heart disease as well as helps you maintain a healthy weight. Unlike other macronutrients, fiber is not digested by your body so it is not absorbed like fats, proteins and carbohydrates.

Soluble fiber dissolves in water and has been shown to lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Eating fresh vegetables and fruits like oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, barley and psyllium (a grain) are excellent sources of soluble fiber. Insoluble fiber increases stool bulk and promotes the movement of food material through your digestive tract. Consuming products made from whole wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts, beans and potatoes are excellent sources of insoluble fiber. Although the amounts of each type of fiber will vary, some plants contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. These include legumes, beans, almonds, avocados and oatmeal.

3 Major Functions of Dietary Fiber

In the body, dietary fibers have three major functions: bulking, viscosity and fermentation. Bulking fibers absorb water and can be soluble or insoluble. These fibers improve digestive regularity by increasing the stool weight. Viscous fibers reduce your sugar response and cholesterol absorption after eating. Psyllium husk is an excellent example of a plant fiber that provides both bulking and viscosity. Fermentable fibers can include both insoluble and soluble fibers that are consumed by microorganisms in the large intestines. The fermentation of some fibers benefit your body by an increase in intestinal bacteria content.

For a high-fiber menu plan that is based on eating real foods, contact the Metabolic Research Center. We help you identify deficiencies that may have made previous attempts at losing weight more difficult. Then, we personalize a weight loss program that addresses your specific needs.

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