Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Health Benefits of Fiber

Millions of Americans are not getting the fiber they need sustain their health. In fact, you may be suffering, needlessly, from health problems that could easily be prevented by just eating more foods that are high in fiber and less sugar and other highly processed foods.

What is Fiber
Fiber is the insoluble part of carbohydrates that cannot be digested and absorbed. Although fiber is not absorbed from the digestive tract, it can affect your health in a number of ways, including binding with digestive waste and removing toxins from your body.

Types of Fiber
There are two main types of fiber – soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber is fiber that can be dissolved in water and is found mostly in fruits. Insoluble fiber is more straw-like and is not soluble in water. Both soluble and insoluble fibers are important to your health.

Health Benefits of Fiber
Fiber is best known for its role in promoting regular bowel movements and preventing constipation.

In the process of moving waste from your gut, mops and traps bile, cholesterol, and other potentially toxic waste and moves through your colon and out of your body.

Another important benefit of fiber is controlling your blood sugar. It does so by slowing the breakdown of carbohydrates in the gut, so that sugar is absorbed more slowly. This helps to prevent potentially harmful spikes in your blood sugar.

Additionally, fiber also acts as a probiotic, which means it allows healthy bacteria to grow and reduces the amount harmful bacteria in the gut.

Numerous studies show that a diet rich in fiber may help to promote weight loss, reduce the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and colon cancer.

How Much Fiber Do You Need?
The National Research Counsel recommends that adult women consume 25 grams of fiber daily and that men get at least 35 grams. Children need smaller amounts.

Food Sources of Fiber
Fiber comes from plant foods. You can get the fiber you need by eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, dried beans and peas, legumes, tree nuts and seeds.

Eat foods that are rich in fiber to keep your digestive tract healthy, prevent rapid spikes in your blood sugar, control your cholesterol and enjoy all of the other health benefits that you get from fiber. These benefits include weight loss and reducing the risk of colon cancer.