To those in the nutritional know, foods with naturally occurring fiber have long been considered some of the healthiest. Studies (and common sense) have shown that they're essential to good nutrition and fighting off disease.
Fiber, which comes in both soluble and insoluble forms, is the edible but indigestible portion of plant-based foods. Soluble fiber -- found in legumes, root vegetables, most fruits and a variety of grains -- dissolves to form a gel-like substance that binds with the fatty acids in your intestines and slows the digestion of food. Insoluble fiber -- found in whole-grain foods, certain fruits and vegetables and nuts -- adds bulk to your stool and increases the ease with which foods move through your digestive tract.
Think of insoluble fiber like exercise equipment, it exercises the digestive tract, which helps to keep it healthy and helps move food along in the digestive process while preventing constipation. Soluble fiber is more like a sponge.
The bottom line? You need them both to keep your gastrointestinal system in shape.
Fiber also offers impressive protection against diseases. Research has shown that fiber lowers LDL (or "bad") cholesterol and reduces blood pressure and inflammation. Several large and long-range studies have found that higher dietary fiber corresponds to a significantly lower incidence of heart disease. Most notably, a seminal 1996 Harvard study of 40,000 men found that those with a high-fiber diet had a 40 percent lower risk of coronary disease than those with a low-fiber diet. That Harvard study, as well as a study of nurses at the Ivy institution, also showed that fiber helps lower blood sugar. In the study of nurses, the subjects who ate only a small amount of cereal fiber and a large amount of processed, high-glycemic white flour more than doubled their risk of type 2 diabetes. There's more: A study at the University of Illinois just found that soluble fiber helps boost immunity, while researchers in the UK recently published a paper linking high fiber intake to a lowered risk for colorectal cancer.
Ideally, the average woman should consume about 25 grams per day, and the average man should consume 38 grams per day. But if you're not getting enough, don't go rushing toward those fiber-fortified products. Always try to go whole and natural first.
High-fiber foods are easy to come by, so you should be able to get what you need by simply tweaking your diet. Instead of buying into a quick fix, you'll be able to make lasting changes. Fiber is an important part of any diet, even if you are not trying to lose weight. It is important for your overall health & well being. Hope this has been helpful to ya'll.
As always, I look forward to your comments & suggestions. Thanks for visiting. Terry