Dietary fiber is the substance that is found in plants and is the indigestible portion that cannot be broken down by the body. Sometimes called roughage or bulk, dietary fiber can be either soluble or insoluble and includes substances such as; cellulose, dextrin, inulin, lignin, waxes, chitins, pectin and beta-glucans. Some common sources of dietary fiber are foods such as legumes, wholegrain cereals (such as barley, wheat and oats), plums, berries, bananas, broccoli, carrots, sweet potato, onions, flaxseeds, almonds, seeds and many more.
What is the function of dietary fiber?
Dietary fiber has a number of positive functions in the body. Primarily it changes the nature of the contents in the digestive tract. Insoluble fiber is instrumental in moving material through the digestive system. It is this type of fiber that impacts the type of stools produced and how often bowel movements take place. Having a diet high in dietary fiber maintains the health of the bowel. It ensures the stools are removed from the body, which is important to avoid undue pressure on the bowel. Insoluble fiber increases stool bulk and softness helping to prevent conditions such as constipation. Regular bowel movements help to flush toxins and impurities from the body resulting in better overall health.
Soluble fiber forms a gel-like substance and helps to lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels. Soluble fiber has been linked to the lowering of blood pressure and inflammation, as well as reducing undue pressure on major organs. Soluble fiber also plays a part in the absorption of lipoprotein reducing bad cholesterol levels in the body. It slows the absorption of glucose into the blood stream helping to maintain and control blood sugar levels. A diet high in fiber has been proven to significantly lower the risk of type two diabetes. Soluble fiber also helps to produce short-chain fatty acids in the colon which are then used by a variety of body systems to sustain energy and build cells.