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The benefits of dietary fiber for humans

There is a whole class of substances that were once perceived as unnecessary and even harmful, but today health organizations set daily norms for their consumption. It’s about dietary fiber. Why have doctors changed their opinion about them so much, how are these components useful and what are additives based on them for?

What is dietary fiber

All plant foods contain two types of nutrients. Some are broken down in the gastrointestinal tract and provide the body with energy. Other components are non-recyclable. This means that we do not have the necessary enzymes for their digestion, and they practically do not participate in energy exchange.
But the human body knows how to benefit even from those food components that it cannot process. In nature, there is a huge variety of these substances, united by mechanisms of beneficial action. Their common name is dietary fiber, or fiber.

What are the types of dietary fiber

Scientists use several classifications of dietary fiber, the most common of which is their division into soluble and insoluble.

  • Soluble fibers include pectins, gums, starches. When interacting with a liquid, these substances form viscous gels.
  • Insoluble fibers – cellulose, hemicellulose, lignin. They do not interact with water, retain the original structure all the way through the digestive system.

Soluble and insoluble fibers play different roles for humans, complementing each other. It is important to get the full amount of fiber of each type.

Where is dietary fiber found

The table lists fiber-rich foods by fiber type and mass fraction 1 .

Product

Prevailing fiber type

Fiber content in percent by weight

Avocado

soluble

6,7

Raspberries

soluble

6.5

Pear

soluble

3.1

Carrot

soluble

2.8

Beet

soluble

2.8

Apple

soluble

2.4

Almond

insoluble

12.2

Oats

insoluble

10.6

Artichoke

insoluble

8.6

Lentils

insoluble

7.9

Walnut

insoluble

6.8

Beans

insoluble

6.4

Why dietary fiber is good for the human body

In the past, nutritionists considered dietary fiber to be ballast substances that pass through the digestive tract unchanged with no benefit to the body. Often, foods were stripped of them to increase nutritional value.
In the 60s of the last century, this stereotype was dealt a serious blow. Irish doctor Denis Burkitt, while working in Uganda, noticed that local residents are practically unfamiliar with many common diseases among Europeans: coronary heart disease, diabetes, appendicitis, gallstones, and constipation. The doctor suggested that Ugandans are less sick due to the presence of dietary fiber in their diet, while we are deficient in these important substances.
Over time, scientists have found more and more evidence of the benefits of dietary fiber for humans. So, only in the last few years the following results have been obtained:

  • scientists from Queens University in Northern Ireland found that dietary fiber can reduce the risk of colon cancer;
  • their colleagues from universities in China found the same link between dietary fiber and ovarian cancer;
  • Spanish researchers from Complutense University concluded that fiber helps to normalize blood pressure.

Other mechanisms for the beneficial effects of dietary fiber have long been studied and explained by science.

Soluble fiber

  • They sorb and remove harmful substances from the body, including cholesterol. In addition, they are also able to absorb water, which makes stools softer and reduces the risk of constipation.
  • Slow down the absorption of sugar. Glucose enters the bloodstream smoothly, without sharp jumps in level, even after eating sweets. This reduces the risk of developing diabetes.
  • They are prebiotics . Our body cannot break down fiber, but its soluble types process the beneficial bacteria living in the stomach and intestines. Such a nutrient medium promotes their active reproduction and the synthesis of compounds necessary for the smooth functioning of the digestive system. In particular, the dietary fiber inulin is an excellent medium for the gastrointestinal microflora, the lack of which, along with other types of fiber, can be easily replenished using the Mixture of dietary fiber with inulin.

Insoluble fiber

  • Strengthen peristalsis by stimulating the walls of the gastrointestinal tract when moving along it.

Fibers of both types

  • Creates a feeling of fullness by filling the stomach. This makes it easier for people who want to lose weight to stick to their diet.

Who is recommended to take dietary fiber

Fiber is essential for everyone, regardless of gender and age. According to the recommendations of Russian doctors, the daily intake of dietary fiber for an adult is 20 g. American experts advise to consume even more fiber: 38 g per day for men and 25 g for women.
In order for such an amount of dietary fiber to enter the body, it is necessary to eat at least 300-400 grams of fresh plant products daily. However, data from the World Health Organization suggest that most people’s diets do not meet these requirements. For this reason, it is very important to consume fiber-based dietary supplements. Daily Dose Chewable Tablets Contains 5.1 g of soluble and insoluble dietary fiber from 13 sources, including oats, wheat, sugarcane, apples, lemons, carrots, prickly pear cactus.

How to take dietary fiber properly

There are a number of rules to improve the efficiency of your fiber intake:
1. Prefer fresh foods: they have more dietary fiber than canned foods.
2. Eat whole grain breads and pasta instead of those made with fine flour.
3. Drink juices with pulp, not clarified ones.
4. Eat breakfast with vegetables, fruits, cereals, so that fiber enters the body in the morning.
5. Include in the diet as many different plant foods as possible to get dietary fiber in all its diversity.

And one more valuable piece of advice. Trying to drastically change your diet by increasing the proportion of plant-based foods high in fiber does more harm than good. Along with dietary fiber, you get too many carbohydrates and at the same time you lack protein and fat. This imbalance of nutrients causes significant harm to health. This is why you should not overuse some foods to the detriment of others, but create a balanced diet that suits your needs and take dietary supplements to eliminate the deficiency of dietary fiber.

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