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What is Fiber:

Fiber is a non-absorbable carbohydrate. It comes from the cell walls of plants, the part that humans cannot digest. While it is not an essential nutrient, you live much better with it and it helps your body to run smoothly. Foods high in fiber are usually those in their natural state, which have been processed minimally or not at all; for example, whole-graon bread, bran and oat cereals, brown rice, kasha, cornmeal, barley, nuts and seeds, and those legumes and dried beans. Fresh fruits and vegetables, especially raw ones, are excellent fiber sources.

Insoluble and Soluble Fiber:

There are two basic forms of fiber; the kind that is soluble in water and the kind that isn't. These two kinds of fiber function differently; the fiber in bananas and beans has a different effect on the body than fiber in wheat bran does. An insoluble fiber, wheat bran acts as a natural laxative, keeping things moving the intestines. As it does not dissolve in water, it passes through the body more quickly than the soluble kind. The theory is that this shortened transit time lowers the risk of colon cancer, because potential carcinogens ingested with food are ushered out of the system more quickly. Insoluble fiber is also thought to be effective in preventing other related problems like diverticulosis and other digestive diseases, and hemorroids.
Soluble fiber plays another role. It acts like a sponge, absorbing water and nutrients in the stomach and slowing food absorption; the bulk helps you feel satisfied sooner from the food you eat. Consequently, you may eat less.
Foods containing soluble fiber are relatively cheap and an effective way to lower both cholesterol and triglyceride levels that are associated with heart disease.
A diet rich in fiber has also been shown to help prevent diabetes.

Some examples of Insoluble and Soluble Fiber Foods:


Beans, corn, oats, barley, lentils, carrots, cabbage, apples, bananas, citrus fruits Reduces the absorption of fat Short term benefits, it slows down the absorption of sugars.


Bran (the outer covering of corn, oats, rice and wheat), cereals, whole grains, edible portion of skins of fruits and vegetables, and celery Short term benefits,it bulks up the stool and prevents constipation.

Visit Fiber Content for foods and equivalent gram measure.

In the long term, dietary fiber protects against the development of cancers of the colon and rectum, stomach and some regions of the mouth.

The Institutes of Medicine have introduced a new term, "functional fiber", to describe certain types of fiber. Functional fiber refers to fiber sources that have shown similar health benefits as dietary fiber, but are isolated or extracted from natural sources, or are synthetic. An example would be pectin, which is extracted from citrus peel and used in jams and jellies.

Sources: Low Fat & Loving It, Ruth Spear
The Institute of Medicine

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