Countless are the foods, which within their nutritional composition contain fiber, which is a crucial element in the diet with many benefits for the body.
Due to the above, in this article we will explain what fiber is , what it is really used for, in which foods it is found in abundance and how it should be consumed.
What is fiber?
This substance is known mainly as dietary fiber, being considered an essential compound for human health, whose presence is abundant in fruits, vegetables, greens and whole grains.
Fiber is an element that cannot be digested, therefore it is divided into soluble fiber and insoluble fiber, both are lodged in the gastrointestinal system and with slight differences they provide great health benefits.
Note: A study mentions that: “Under the denomination of dietary fiber a wide group of substances are included, such as non-starch polysaccharides and some non-polysaccharide components, among which lignin stands out” . (1)
What is fiber used for?
Fiber has various functions beyond being essential for the intestinal system, below we will present what fiber is really used for in the human body:
1. Reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases
Soluble dietary fiber is very good for water absorption (an advantage over insoluble fiber), which lowers substances such as cholesterol and triglycerides. In a few words, it decreases the levels of fat in the liver and intestine, which helps to reduce, in part, the appearance of cardiovascular diseases.
You should know: An analysis highlights that: “Fiber provides an antihypertensive effect that could be explained specifically by soluble fiber, because it mainly improves insulin resistance .” (two)
2. Regulates blood sugar levels
As well as favorable fat reduction, fiber manages to do the same for blood sugar for one important detail: soluble dietary fiber improves sugar absorption by increasing intestinal viscosity.
This is essential for patients with type 2 diabetes, where insulin sensitivity is even improved, as mentioned above, and this type of fiber is abundant in various cereals suitable for this type of patient.
Important: An analysis mentions the following: “The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends a fiber intake of between 20 and 35 g/day, both soluble and insoluble, to maintain better glycemic and insulin control . ” (3)
3. Stimulates intestinal transit
Food or dietary fiber is well known for being a great helper for the intestinal flora, softening the stool and improving the mucus of the intestinal walls. thanks to the production of fatty acids with fermentability effects.
Bottom Line: Fiber is important for preventing constipation , short bowel syndrome and even irritable bowel syndrome , as well as a host of other inflammatory diseases.
4. Helps control weight
We have talked about reducing fat, lowering blood sugar and even improving intestinal flora, therefore dietary fiber is essential to control weight, or rather, prevent obesity.
In this sense, it favors weight loss through the mechanism of increased satiety and the smaller portions consumed in calories, since fiber provides a minimum of 2 kcal.
Note: An analysis highlights that: “The consumption of fiber, specifically soluble and viscous fiber , could favor weight loss since it delays gastric emptying by producing water retention” . (4)
5. Reduces the risk of cancer
It has been investigated and confirmed that dietary fiber is capable of reducing the risk and presence of cancer cells, especially colon-rectal cancer, both directly and indirectly.
You should know: It is known that fiber develops butyric acid, a substance capable of slowing down the growth of cancer cells, with the help of improving the absorption and dilution of toxic substances , which happen to be the effects of dietary fiber.
What foods have more fiber?
There are a huge number of foods that have fiber in their structures, some are well known and their consumption is incredibly wide. Therefore, we present below the best foods rich in fiber:
1. Whole grains
These cereals are very healthy, mainly because they have not been exposed to a refining process, where the whole grain preserves all its components such as minerals, vitamins and of course a high fiber content.
Note: The different types of cereals rich in fiber are rolled oats, brown rice, chia , flaxseed, wheat bran, oat bran and also amaranth .
Legumes are a very special type of legumes, they are sources of soluble fiber and insoluble fiber, as well as having a high protein content , providing many benefits such as obesity and blood glucose control.
Vegetables, especially those with greenish tones, are truly essential in the human diet. In this sense, green vegetables are the richest in dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals, including antioxidant properties.
Fruits are certainly very good for the human body, they prevent constipation and help in the process of losing weight , providing a high level of fiber. Fruits capable of this are apples , bananas, kiwis, and pears (the fruit that contains the most dietary fiber).
Finally we have nuts , which can even control anxiety in people and do not skimp on being a great source of fiber . The nuts with the highest content of this are almonds , walnuts , pistachios and hazelnuts.
How should fiber be consumed?
When we refer to how dietary fiber should be consumed, we are specifically talking about the amount that should not be exceeded .
Important: Institutions such as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) , as well as the World Health Organization (WHO) , strongly recommend an intake of 16 to 25 grams of dietary fiber per day. (5)
It is important to note that an excessive amount of 70 grams of dietary fiber can lead to the opposite of its benefits, causing a reduction in the absorption of essential minerals , gastrointestinal problems such as increased gas and an increase in bacteria in the colon.
- Dietary fiber is an essential substance for the body , divided into soluble and insoluble fiber.
- Dietary fiber can control glucose levels , reduce the amount of fat, improve intestinal flora and stimulate intestinal transit.
- Foods rich in fiber are cereals such as wheat bran, legumes, fruits and vegetables .
- The ideal intake of fiber is 25 grams per day , but excess of more than 70 grams can cause problems in the digestive system.