Fiber's Role in Digestion
What it is, how much you need & why
Fiber plays an important role in the health of our digestive tract.* While fiber intake is essential for healthy elimination,* this is only one of the many health benefits associated with fiber intake. Among those benefits are:
Appetite control – Fiber helps increase satiety, making us feel fuller and therefore consume less calories.*
Colon health – Intake of certain “prebiotic” fibers promotes the growth of healthy bacteria (probiotics) in our large intestine and creates an environment associated with colon health.*
Mineral absorption – Some fibers have been found to enhance absorption of minerals such as calcium in teens and postmenopausal women.*
Despite all the numerous health benefits of fiber, Americans typically fall short on meeting their dietary fiber needs. Most adults are only getting about half (15 grams) of the 25 and 38 grams recommended per day respectively for women and men.
What Is Fiber?
It may seem odd, and counterintuitive, but one of the healthiest things for your body is something you can't even digest! In turn, dietary fiber helps you digest the food you eat so you can absorb the nutrients you need.*
Dietary fiber is actually a specific type of complex carbohydrate found only in plants, but plays a very critical role in keeping our bodies in good functioning order. There are two main types of fiber:
SOLUBLE FIBER: Dissolves in water, forms a gel in your digestive tract which slows digestion.*
Soluble fiber is found in many foods as well as supplements. Examples of foods that contain soluble fiber are: beans, oranges, pears, nuts, flax seeds, celery, carrots and more.
INSOLUBLE FIBER: Does not dissolve in water, but does provide bulk moving through your digestive tract, therefore speeding up movement of food.*
Insoluble fiber can be found in whole wheat, nuts, dark green leafy vegetables, brown rice, as well as skins of fruits and vegetables.
Getting a mix of fibers from a variety of sources is ideal. However, the key is to ensure that you take in the proper amount needed to meet your minimum daily requirements.