What is Fiber?
We all have heard that we need to include fibrous food in our diet.We should eat fiber rich diet as it’s a major cleanser in our body.But what exactly is fiber?Fiber is the indigestible portion of the plant food that we eat and is not broken down as it a complex carbohydrate and the human body lacks enzymes to break down the fiber.Fiber contributes less energy—usually measured in kilojoules or kilocalories, also known as dietary calories than compared to sugars and starches. Fiber passes through our digestive system by absorbing water and helps in easing bowel movements.Fiber is also known as roughage by most of us and acts as a cleanser in our body.
Sources Of Fiber:
The main source of fiber is plant food particularly green leafy vegetables, whole wheat grains, fruits and vegetables.Non-vegetarian foods, i.e., animal meat, does not provide any fiber.
Types of Fiber:
Fiber is broadly classified into two categories: a)Soluble Fiber b)Insoluble Fiber
a)This kind of fiber dissolves in fluids , more precisely water.It changes form as it passes through the digestive tract.Being soluble, it absorbs water and becomes gelatinous.They usually slow the movement of food through the system.
B)Foods rich in soluble fiber are kidney beans, pinto beans, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, spinach, zucchini, apples, oranges, grapefruit, grapes, prunes, oatmeal, and whole-wheat bread.
C)Benefits of soluble fiber are as follows:
~It helps in reducing the level of cholesterol in a person especially levels of bad cholesterol (LDL).
~It helps in controlling diabetes level and metabolism in an individual.
a)This kind of fiber does not dissolve in water and does not change form as it passes through the digestive tract.As they do not absorb or dissolve in water, they promote stool regularity just mildly and not as much as soluble fiber.
B)Foods rich in insoluble fiber are vegetables – especially dark green leafy ones, root vegetable skins, fruit skins, whole wheat products, wheat bran, corn bran, nuts, and seeds.
C)Benefits of insoluble fiber are as follows:
~Helps in easy bowel moment and reduces constipation.
~Accelerates elimination of toxic wastes from our body.
~Minimizes risk of colorectal cancer by maintaining an optimal pH in the intestines.
Benefits of Fiber as a whole:
We have seen the benefits of soluble and insoluble fiber.Now let us take a look at how fiber is useful for our body and an essential element of our diet.Fiber helps in maintaining a healthy digestive system.It has been observed that people who consume a fiber-rich diet are less prone to get affected by cardiovascular diseases namely heart strokes, as fiber helps in controlling and maintaining the cholesterol levels in our body.Secondly, people who are diabetic and who consume a fiber-rich food tend to require a lesser amount of insulin as opposed to people whose intake of fiber is negligible.Consumption of adequate amount of fiber also helps in prevention of constipation, colon cancer, hemorrhoids, etc. Fiber adds bulk to our diet and as such gives us a feeling of fullness.When we feel full we tend to eat less thereby indirectly we are controlling our weight.So fiber rich diet prevents us from getting obese.Fiber further helps in controlling blood pressure levels.It has also been observed that people who take in a fiber rich diet decreased their risk of dying over a period of 9 years as compared to people who consume less of fiber.When we consume fiber-rich foods like fruits and vegetables, we not only take in the optimum amount of fiber that our body requires but also acquire the essential nutrients and vitamins.As we have observed intake of fiber is a win-win situation for us.Not only do we guard ourselves against various diseases and sickness but also get the essential nutrients that our body needs so that we remain healthy.
How Much Is Enough?
Now that we know the importance of fiber let us see how much of fiber do we need to consume each day.It is said that a daily intake of about 30-40 grams of fiber is sufficient to meet the need of our body.This 30-40 gram includes two to four servings of fruit, three to five servings of vegetables and two servings of fresh green salads.
How to Fiber up?
Having said that fiber is important and how much should be consumed let me tell you that it is not necessary that we directly incorporate these fruits and vegetables and other fiber rich food into our diet.We can even mix these fiber rich foods with our daily diet and acquire the necessary nutrients as well as the goodness of fiber.Following are the few ways in which we can incorporate fiber into our foods.
~We can mix grated vegetables in parathas.
~We can also include green leafy vegetables in non-vegetarian curries.
~We should include a lot of salads in our diets.
~We should opt directly for the fruit rather than its juice.
~We should eat fruits and vegetables with their edible skin.
Thus,now that have a brief idea about what fiber is ,its sources,importance and even how to incorporate it into our diet let us do it.It has been observed that a majority of people do not take the optimum amount of fiber that our body requires.In many nutritional charts fiber isn't even mentioned as a nutrient but it definitely has a lot of benefits as we've seen.So let us all make an effort to include fiber.Even a fruit or two will meet the daily requirement and keep us safe from so many diseases.diseases. Doesn't seem like a bad deal at all right?So take your daily intake of fiber and remain healthy!