How Does Fiber Aid Digestion? Soluble and Insoluble
Most Americans (and many people in other parts of the world) do not get enough fiber in their daily diet. On average, people should eat 14 grams of fiber per 1,000 calories consumed. For a 2,000 calorie diet that’s 28 grams.
If you are not eating enough fiber, you need to increase the amount you eat, but do so slowly. Eating more fiber than you are used to all at once can result in bloating and excessive gas. Instead, slowly increase the amount of fiber you eat each day until you are at the recommended amount.
For our digestive systems to work correctly, we need fiber (at the recommended amounts). Not only does speed up digestion and allow for proper nutrient absorption, it can also prevent diverticulosis. Diverticulosis is where small pouches called diverticula form in the intestine and trap food. If these pouches become inflamed or infected, it can turn into diverticulitis resulting in abdominal pain and diarrhea.
Speeds up Digestion
Fiber is a type of carbohydrate found in plant foods and comes in two types – soluble and insoluble.
Soluble Fiber: can help lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels. Soluble fiber is found in oats, peas, beans, apples, pears, figs, nectarines, apricots, citrus fruits, carrots, brussel sprouts, avocados, sweet potatoes, barley, turnips, broccoli, sunflower seeds, flax seeds and psyllium.
Insoluble Fiber: helps speeds up digestion, relieves constipation and keeps bowel movements regular. Examples of this type of fiber include fruit and vegetable skins, such as apple, cucumber, grapes and peas. Whole wheat products, wheat bran and whole grains. As well as nuts, avocados, beans, cauliflower, green beans and potatoes.
On the other hand, soluble fiber mixes with liquid in the large intestine to form a slow-moving gel-like substance that allows more nutrients to be absorbed into the intestinal wall and into the bloodstream.
A side benefit of eating the recommended amounts of fiber is weight loss. Because soluble fiber is filling and moves slower through the digestive system, you don’t get hungry as quickly as you do eating less fibrous foods. Less snacking means less calories consumed. Over time, it all adds up to some weight loss.
And Finally …
Soluble fiber can also lower cholesterol by binding to the bile in the intestinal sludge and preventing it from being absorbed through the intestines. To make up for this loss of bile, the liver must produce more bile salts of which pulling existing cholesterol from the bloodstream is part of the process.
Be sure to eat enough fiber on a daily basis to enjoy the great health benefits derived from it!