What is fiber? Fiber is the components of plant food that, in most cases, reach the lower parts of the digestive system in unchanged form and are food for beneficial bacteria.
There are two main types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Eating enough fiber of both types improves digestion, promotes weight loss, and has other extremely beneficial effects. However, people who look after their diet always worry about calories content. So they often ask a question: “How many calories per gram of fiber?”. Well the first thing to remember is that soluble fiber doesn’t have calories, insoluble does. However, it only contains 2 kcal per gram so it will not hurt your diet bit will bring you a number of benefits.
Soluble vs insoluble fiber
Dietary fiber is a rough type of food that is practically not digested in the lumen of the digestive tube and is excreted from the body in an unchanged form. A person can not extract energy value, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients from fiber, but it is necessary for the adequate and well-coordinated work of the gastrointestinal tract of both adults and children.
There are two main types of fiber:
Soluble fiber quickly mixes with the liquid in the intestinal lumen and increases in volume by 4-10 times, resembling a soft gel in appearance. These expanded dietary fibers are prebiotics — food for beneficial microorganisms in the gut (probiotics). They also quickly cause a feeling of satiety and satiety of the body. Soluble fibers have a positive effect on lipid and fat metabolism, prevent the development of diabetes, atherosclerosis and reduce the risk of death from cardiovascular diseases. If there is an excess, there may be a delay in the evacuation of fecal masses (this is the main cause of constipation in a monotonous diet).
Once in the intestine, this type of fiber does not dissolve in it, because it does not interact with water and other substrates. This fiber accelerates the progress and speed of fermentation of food particles, helps to quickly remove fecal matter and prevent constipation, promotes the escape of gases from the digestive tube.
Both types of fiber provide a favorable environment for the growth and development of beneficial microorganisms, inhibit the vital activity of pathogenic and opportunistic representatives of the micro flora.
Both types of dietary fiber are extremely important for the body. Insoluble fiber supports the functions of the digestive tract, and soluble fiber improves digestion and metabolism.
Health Benefits of Fiber
Dietary fiber has a lot of useful properties for the body and should be included in the diet of every person.
The main advantages of soluble fibers:
- The decrease in body mass. According to research, soluble dietary fibers block the absorption of fat from the intestinal lumen, interfere with the exchange of lipids in the body. As a result, the formation of fat depots is prevented. Thus, they can be used for weight loss.
- The normalization of the digestive processes. Soluble fiber is an important source of food for beneficial microorganisms that are necessary for the proper flow of enzymatic food breakdown and the smooth muscles of the gastrointestinal tract.
- Normalization of cholesterol levels. Modern research has shown that soluble fiber reduces the absorption of a number of fatty acids secreted into the lumen of the digestive tube along with bile. This leads to an increase in high-density lipoproteins (“good” cholesterol) and a decrease in low-molecular-weight lipids (“bad” cholesterol). These effects clean blood vessels and prevent the formation of atherosclerotic plaques in the walls of blood vessels.
- The decrease in blood glucose. According to scientists, soluble fiber reduces the absorption of all carbohydrates (including glucose), and also increases the sensitivity of insulin receptors in the cells of muscle and fat tissue. Thus, glucose begins to be better absorbed by the body’s cells and enters in smaller volumes. There was a decrease in the incidence of type II diabetes in populations whose diet is rich in soluble fiber.
- Prevention of cardiovascular diseases. Fiber reduces cholesterol, reduces body weight, and reduces the concentration of glucose in the blood plasma. Such a complex effect on all components of the metabolic syndrome prevents such pathologies as coronary heart disease and myocardial infarction, stroke, and lower limb vein thrombophlebitis.
Benefits of insoluble fiber
- Prevention of constipation. Insoluble fiber accelerates the work of smooth muscles enclosed in the walls of the digestive tube, and also increases the speed of evacuation of fecal masses.
- Reducing the risk of diverticular formation and preventing diverticular disease. As you know, diverticulae are formed in weak places of the intestinal wall – the area of entry and exit of blood vessels. An adequate course of digestive processes (reducing the time of finding food particles in the intestine and inhibiting gas formation) against the background of fiber consumption provides reliable prevention of this serious complication.
Soluble and insoluble dietary fiber have many advantages: from helping to lose weight to preventing serious diseases of the digestive tract and cardiovascular system.
To sum it all up, you can see that there are number of benefits of both soluble and insoluble fiber and it is important that a person consumes enough of both. It is advised to consume 25 g of fiber for women on average and 35 g for men.
Main sources of soluble fiber:
- citrus fruits
- vegetables (carrot, aubergine)
- beans (soy, lentils and all kind of beans)
Main sources of insoluble fiber:
- whole grain flour;
- wheat bran;
- all types of nuts and seeds;
- vegetables (cabbage, zucchini, spinach, potatoes, tomatoes);
- legumes (beans);
- fruits (avocado, green bananas, kiwi, mango)
If you have troubles consuming enough of fiber, you can always use great recipec of high fiber breakfast, high fiber salad or even buy high fiber snack. There are also fiber supplements available to order, however it is better if you can consume enough from your meals.