Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Why is it Important to have Fiber in Your Diet?

Fiber is a fundamental nutrient for our organism and especially for our digestive system, which is where it will perform the primary functions. A correct contribution of fiber in our diet, in addition to facilitating digestive transit, will have very beneficial effects on our health.

Fiber is nothing more than a carbohydrate that is not digested by digestive enzymes, so it is not absorbed and passes intact throughout the gastrointestinal tract. The most important components of the fiber are celluloses, pectin, agar, mucilage gums, and lignin.

Why is it important to have fiber in your diet?
We can differentiate between two large groups: soluble and insoluble fiber. This ability to solubilize or not in water will have different consequences, effects, and benefits.

Insoluble fiber: characteristics and properties

It is found mainly in cereals and their derivatives: bread, pasta, and cereals, but in their integral varieties. This type of fiber, although as its name indicates is not able to solubilize in water, it is able to retain certain amounts of water in its structure, which causes it to increase in volume.

The most important nutritional consequence of this type of fiber is that it is not attacked by the intestinal flora in the colon, so it is excreted as such in feces. These characteristics allow increasing the intestinal mobility, especially of the colon, helping to prevent and to mitigate certain digestive disorders like constipation.

Soluble fiber: characteristics and properties

It is found in foods such as legumes, fruits, vegetables and also in certain cereals such as barley and oats. As this fiber can be solubilized in water, when it comes into contact with the liquid it forms a kind of gel, significantly increasing its volume and its ability to circulate through the intestine.

In this type of fiber, in addition to a stimulus of the digestive system reduces the time of intestinal transit, something very beneficial to our health.

This fiber is fermented in the colon by its flora, which will cause gasses (which in high quantity will cause discomfort) and short-chain fatty acids, which will be absorbed and can be used to provide energy.

Functions of dietary fiber

  • Energy: Although the amount of energy is the lowest of the nutrients (2 kcal/g), the use of fiber by the bacteria of the intestinal flora is a small contribution.
  • It produces a sensation of satiety: especially the soluble fiber to retain water, increasing its volume and causing distension of the stomach, a signal that the organism interprets as filling and that you have to stop eating. That is why in many slimming diets salads, fruits and vegetables are recommended.
  • It delays the gastric emptying: this has a critical consequence and is that the nutrients will be absorbed little by little and there will not be spikes of glucose.
  • Reduction of intestinal transit time: As we said before, the inner passage of food decreases its time and is done more favorably. Fiber is essential to avoid constipation.

It decreases the absorption of cholesterol, by holding it with it and eliminating it with feces.

It prevents diseases related to the digestive system such as diverticulosis, diverticulitis and increasingly is investigated its role in the prevention of colon cancer, as it prevents carcinogens are long in contact with the intestinal mucosa.

Nutritional recommendations for dietary fiber

For an adult, a daily intake of both soluble and insoluble fiber of 25 grams per day is recommended. With a daily intake of 5 servings of fruits and vegetables, plus a contribution of whole grains (bread, pasta, and rice) this amount is assured.

One way to introduce optimal amounts of fiber into the diet is to make sure that at every meal there is some fiber-rich food, for example, Breakfast: orange juice; Half morning: apple; Food: vegetables; Snack: whole grains; Dinner: whole wheat bread


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