Fiber is that part of the food that cannot be digested by humans. In other words, dietary fiber is that part of food which resists digestion. While plant foods contain fibers, dairy products and animal products such as meat, fish, eggs, etc. do not contain any fiber. Fatty foods have very little fibre, whereas foods high in fiber are mostly low in fat.
Fibers are found only in plant foods such as whole-grain products, fruits, vegetables, legumes, seeds, nuts etc. Dietary fiber is not a source of calories or minerals or vitamins. Foods appearing fiberous need not be high in fiber like lettuce. Soluble fibres foods, insoluble fibres, fiber foods.
Why you should include fiber foods in your diet?
A regular daily intake of fiber foods helps keep our bowels working regularly and prevent constipation. By providing bulk and softening stool, the pressure of hard bowel movements is eliminated.
Fibre forms a gel in the intestine, which results in the binding of bile acids, an important ingredient among the juices in the body. When an insufficient amount of bile acids reach the liver, the liver converts the cholesterol present into bile acids, there by reducing the cholesterol level.
Fiber can also reduce chances of getting colon cancer. Increase of fiber in diet prevents overeating, therefore you should eat foods high in fiber. Soluble fibers can reduce cholesterol and control blood sugar level in people with diabetes. In countries where the diet is high in fiber, bowel cancer, irritable bowel syndrome, overweight, heart disease and diabetes are very rare. Also as fiber is filling, high fibre foods stop you feeling hungry too soon.
Types of Dietary Fiber:
Not All Fibers are alike. They can be divided into two categories: insoluble fiber and soluble fiber. Both are important for health. Foods contain different amount and type of fiber. Some foods are better sources of one type than the other (See insoluble and soluble fiber foods list). For example, oat bran, rolled oats contains about 50% soluble fiber of the total, but wheat bran contains only 20% soluble fiber of the total fiber. Both types of fibers are important for good health.
How Much Daily Fiber To Eat
- A healthy adult body needs about 25-30 grams of fiber a day, assuming that we need 12 grams of fiber a day for every 1000 calories consumed. However, most people consume only about 10 grams. Children need different amounts of fiber at different ages. A child's daily fiber requirements can be calculated by adding five to the age of the child. For example, a seven year old child needs 7+5=12 grams of fiber daily. Both the adults and children should add fiber to diet.
- Eating 25 g of dietary fiber daily will help lower your risk of heart disease, as well as some types of cancer and type 2 diabetes. Eating about 30 g of fiber a day can reduce your risk of getting breast cancer by 50%.
Adding too much fiber in your diet too quickly can cause constipation, diarrhea and bloating, intestinal gas and other digestive discomforts. These side effects are, however, not serious and usually go away after a short period. Drink lots of water.
It is very important to add fibers in diet. You can make a high fiber diet by adding fibers in your meals.
- Use two servings of fiber containing foods at each meal as a general rule. You should know about foods high in fiber.
- Avoid refined food items like white breads and cereals, purchase whole-grain variety. Instead of refined flour (maida), use whole grain flour, wheat bran or oat bran.
- Buy fresh fruits and vegetables and eat them raw and unpeeled whenever possible.
- Drink lots of fluids. Water helps fiber work. Without enough water, insoluble fiber can block the digestive system, resulting in constipation.
- Do not substitute juice for fruits. Juice is not a good source of fiber, eat high fiber fruits.
- Exercise regularly. Fibers will not do miracle. Physical activity is essential.