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Health Benefits of Fiber

In our last post we dispelled the myth that high-fiber cereals and muffins contain more fiber than natural foods (e.g. beans, fruits and vegetables). But why is fiber important to your health?…

Health benefits of fiber

Health benefits of fiber

INTRODUCTION

In our last post we dispelled the myth that cereals and muffins contain more fiber than natural, unprocessed foods. Fiber is found in all plant-derived foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes (e.g. beans).

What is fiber? It is the structural part of the plant. It is made up of many sugar molecules, thus it is considered a polysaccharide. It is considered a non-starchy polysaccharide. The reason is that humans cannot digest fiber and it passes through our digestive system intact. It cannot be broken down into smaller components, unlike starch.

HEALTH BENEFITS

Here are just a few health benefits of dietary fiber:

  1. Fiber works like a sponge soaking up toxins in you gut. It also reduces the time these toxins stay in the body, thus reducing the likelihood they can cause damage to your cells and tissues. Less cell damage = less risk of disease
  2. Just 30.4 grams of fiber per day can reduce the risk of all types of cancers by 14%. This may not seem like a lot, but remember the effects of a healthy diet add up. Every part of your diet contributes to your overall cancer prevention strategy
  3. It increases the number of healthy bacteria in the gut, thus improving your gut health. Gut health = better health. Adequate fiber intake increases a certain type of fatty acid (short-chain fatty acids) which increases healthy gut bacteria
  4. Creates healthy colon cells.¬†There are billions of cells in your body. Healthy cells = healthy body, and fiber creates healthy cells. A diet high in fiber forces bad cells in the colon to self-destruct (a process known as “apoptosis”).

Reference: Whitney E and Rolfes SR. (2016). “The Carbohydrates: Sugars, Starches, and Fibers”; in Whitney E and Rolfes SR. Understanding Nutrition. Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning, pp: 123

Bedside Manners
Deanine Halliman

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