Dietary Fiber: Why do we need it?
Fiber is an essential part of our diet that can be found only in plants. Other foods like meat and dairy cannot provide your body with dietary fiber.
The main purpose of dietary fiber is to help your digestive system work properly, so it is important to consume the right amount of dietary fiber in your diet to ensure bowel regularity.
Foods that contain dietary fiber are broadly divided into 2 types; soluble or insoluble; both are present in all plant foods, but rarely in equal proportions.
Soluble fibers dissolve in water. They act as feed for probiotics in our gut. These fibers remain undigested even after being acted upon by digestive enzymes. Soluble fibres help to lower your blood cholesterol levels and help you pass waste much easier.
Insoluble fibers do not dissolve in water. Though they pass undigested through our small intestine but are very important for our intestinal health as they absorb water, add bulk to stool ensuring its smooth passage through the large intestine.
Health Benefits of Dietary Fiber:
1) Improve Digestion
The main benefit of fiber is to aid the digestive system ensuring you have enough dietary fiber in your diet will help normalise your bowel movements and reduce the risk of inflammatory bowel diseases.
2) Help with Weight Loss
Foods that are high in fiber generally take longer to chew and eat. This makes your body feel fuller quicker, meaning you will actually eat less. High fiber foods also keep you feeling fuller for longer and slowly release energy, meaning you will eat less over the course of the day.
3) Maintain Blood Cholesterol Levels
Foods that are high in fiber can help stabilise your blood sugar levels and also maintain cholesterol levels that are within a normal range. High fiber foods can help lower the total blood cholesterol level by lowering the bad cholesterol levels or low-density lipoprotein that our bodies get.
As most high-fiber containing foods usually have insoluble and soluble fiber, it is not necessary to be too careful about dividing them up.
Consuming 25 grams of fiber each day should be enough to meet daily requirements.
Ideally, individuals should consume at least five servings of fruit and vegetables, as well as some servings of whole grain products, each day.