How Eating Fibre Can Promote Fantastic Health
Dietary fiber, the other major type of complex carbohydrate, plays a supportive but very important role in nutritional health. Fiber is the component of plant foods that we cannot digest. Soluble fiber partially dissolves in water, while insoluble fiber does not. Sources of soluble fiber include many fruits (apples, pears, and strawberries), legumes (peas, beans, and lentils), oat-meal, and oat bran. Sources of insoluble fiber include many vegetables (carrots, celery, tomatoes, zucchini), whole-grain breads and cereals (especially whole wheat), wheat bran, brown rice, and couscous. Soluble or not, since we can’t use fiber for energy or building materials, what good is it?
WHAT DOES FIBER DO FOR OUR BODY?
Fiber contributes to the time release of energy from carbohydrates by slowing both the release of food from the stomach and the absorption of digestible carbohydrate that accompanies it. This tends to prevent the spikes in blood glucose and insulin that are undesirable features of high-glycemic index food. Foods with a healthy component of fiber tend to have a lower glycemic index. A diet high in fiber may reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
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Fiber can help reduce overeating and weight gain. Slowing the speed with which you consume a meal is a basic strategy in controlling the size of your food portions, and meals higher in fiber content generally take longer to eat. Their larger bulk, increased even more by water they absorb, creates a feeling of fullness. Further more, they slow not only the stomach’s rate of emptying food but also the passage of food through the small intestine, thus prolonging the sense of being full or even “stuffed.”
Fiber (especially the insoluble form) tends to soften and increase the bulk of stool and helps to move it through the colon more rapidly. It thus can prevent or relive constipation, the most common intestinal complaint in the United States (especially among the early). Wheat and oat bran appear to be particularly effective at this, as is psyllium seed, derived from a Mediterranean plant, which swells and becomes gelatinous when moist. Psyllium seed is used in many bulk laxatives such as Metamucil.