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Which Are The Most Important Benefits of Fiber?



Fiber is a nutrient that we all need and very few of us fully understand.  Fiber and Dietary Fiber are two different things.  It is naturally found in plants.  Dietary fiber is the fiber that you eat.


Dietary Fiber can be further broken down into two types: soluble and insoluble fiber.  Soluble fiber dissolves in water and turns into a gel-like substance.


Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water and adds bulk to stool as it passes through the body.  Dietary fiber, as a whole, is known as plant roughage that is difficult for the body to process and digest.


This is actually a great thing, and the roughage passes through the intestines while cleaning and sweeping the colon.



Soluble Fiber


  • Peas
  • Oats
  • Beans
  • Apples
  • Citrus Fruits
  • Carrots
  • Barley


Insoluble Fiber


  • Whole Wheat
  • Bran
  • Nuts
  • Beans
  • Cauliflower
  • Green Beans
  • Potatoes


For the best benefit, it is advised to consume a variety of both soluble and insoluble fiber.  This is easy to do, as many foods contain both types of fiber.




Benefits of a High Fiber Diet


A high fiber diet has many benefits, which include:


Normalizing Bowel Movements- Fiber increases the weight and size of your stool.  Bulky stool is easier to pass and decreases risk of constipation.


Maintaining Bowel Health- High fiber diets may decrease the risk of colon cancer and other diseases of the colon, such as diverticulitis.


Lowering Cholesterol Levels- soluble fiber is shown to lower cholesterol and increase overall heart health.


Controlling Blood Sugar- Fiber is one of the nutrients that maintains blood sugar levels and prevents spikes or dips.  Soluble fiber in particular can slow the body’s absorption of sugar- which controls overall blood sugar levels.  This, in turn, can reduce the risk of Type 2 Diabetes.


Achieving a Healthy Weight- High fiber foods are generally more filling than their lower fiber counterparts.  Therefore, you are likely to eat less and stay fuller longer.  High fiber foods control blood sugar, so they also prevent cravings associated with blood sugar dips/crashes.



How Much Fiber Do I Need?


A high fiber diet has many benefits, which include:


Age 50 or younger Age 51 or older
Institute of Medicine
Men 38 grams 30 grams
Women 25 grams 21 grams



Fiber Supplements and Fortified Foods




In addition to foods rich in fiber, supplements or fortified foods are sometimes needed.  For example, many breakfast cereals and breads have added fiber in them.


Many products are now being made with whole grains, which increases overall daily fiber intake.  If all else fails, a fiber supplement can do wonders.


These are typically taken in powder form and mixed with water or other liquid for ease of drinking.  This is especially beneficial for those suffering from constipation or diarrhea.



One thing to note: when increasing fiber, you must increase water consumption.  Fiber, especially soluble fiber, is broken down with water and it is needed for fiber to carry out its’ benefits.  In addition, too much fiber with too little water can lead to constipation.



Overall, fiber is extremely beneficial and should be a part of everyone’s diet.


Food and nutrition


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