Fiber is one of the most important nutrients. It is necessary for the normal functioning of the gastrointestinal tract and other organs. Although people consume it every day, not everyone knows how it works.
What is fiber?
Fiber is a type of complex carbohydrate. Cabbage leaves, peels of beans and seeds, fruit and grains, all of them contain this substance. Dietary plant fibers are not digested by enzymes in the stomach. The beneficial intestinal microflora is responsible for their processing.
First and foremost, fiber helps food to be cleared from the digestive system faster. The longer the food is digested inside, the more difficult it is removed later without consequences, such as gas or bloating. Fiber helps the body cleanse itself naturally. That is why it is indicated for those who have problems in the gastroenterology domain.
Types of fiber
Different types of plant foods contain different types of fiber. Each of them has its own structure, and therefore a different value for the body. Stomach enzymes do not digest fiber, but microorganisms and beneficial gut bacteria need it to survive.
There are semi-soluble, insoluble and soluble types of fiber:
Cellulose is an insoluble whole fiber. It is usually found in bran. This type prevents the retention of already processed food, improves the peristalsis and protects the mucosa from the absorption of pathogenic elements.
Gum fiber is a soluble one. It can only be found in products that are made from dried legumes and oats. This type has enveloping properties, which help to slow down the absorption of glucose.
Pectins are light soluble fibers, which are stored in vegetables and fruits. They help remove heavy metals from the digestive tract and give a feeling of fullness.
Hemicellulose is a semi-soluble type. It retains water in the body, absorbs toxic compounds. You can find the component in oat and barley grains.
In general, soluble fiber is digested for a long time, so you feel satiety longer. The substance slows down the absorption of sugar, lowers cholesterol and effectively removes metals and toxins. Insoluble fiber improves digestion processes and gently cleanses the gastrointestinal tract. Here are the reasons why you may need more fiber in your diet.
For losing weight
As soon as coarse fibers enter our stomach, they immediately begin to absorb all the liquid and immediately grow in their volume. Thus, you have a feeling of satiety. The amount of food consumed decreases significantly, so it’s easier to lose excess weight.
To kill bacteria
This property concerns the oral cavity, where bacteria usually accumulate and reproduce. When fiber gets into our mouth, we try to chew food for a long time and vigorously. This process stimulates salivation. All types of pathogenic bacteria get washed away and die.
For normal bowel function
Coarse fibers play a huge role in the digestive tract activity. Natural waste products do not accumulate inside, and the intestinal walls are stimulated. This helps you to get rid of feces without external help. Moreover, it is in the intestines and its microflora where healthy immunity is born.
For the cancer prevention
It turned out that regular fiber consumption prevents the development of rectum cancer. This type is one of the most common and dangerous. The reason for its occurrence is the wrong lifestyle, the consumption of highly processed and refined products. Coarse fibers instantly cleanse the body of junk food residues and restore the natural microflora.
To cleanse the blood
Pectins act like a sponge with a billion membranes that block the release of toxic substances into the blood. Due to the pectin properties, harmful substances are neutralized and excreted from the body in a natural way.
When fiber becomes harmful
The bad impact of fiber depends on its source. Different types of fiber can cause:
worsening of existing liver pathologies;
Pharmaceutical fiber has its own use peculiarities. It can lead to colitis, diarrhea, and impair the absorption of important micronutrients, like iron, zinc, magnesium, beta-carotene, vitamin B2. By the way, fiber absorbs water greatly, so replenish your water balance after consuming fiber-containing foods.