23 October 2011

Dietary Fiber

Dietary fiber is a complex carbohydrate. It is mostly found in whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Fiber is made up of non- starchy polysaccharides dextrin’s, cellulose, inulin, pectin’s, dextrin’s, chitins. Dietary fiber cannot be digested by the body. It adds bulk to your diet and gives satiety. Fiber absorbs water and removes waste material from the body. Dietary fiber is classified into two types soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. Both types of fiber are necessary for the body fiber requirement and for proper function of digestive system. A daily recommended dietary fiber of 30 – 40 gms per day is good for health.

Soluble Fiber:   It is responsible for controlling sugar and cholesterol levels in the system. Soluble fiber dissolves in water to form gel like substance. Soluble fibers are gums, pectins and mucilages. In our daily dietary fiber intake 20 – 30% should come from soluble fiber. It prolongs stomach emptying time so that the sugar is released slowly and absorbed slowly. Soluble fiber has beneficial effects on lowering cholesterol, which can help in weight management and heart diseases. It also regulates and maintains blood sugar levels for people with diabetes. It increases the good bacteria in the bowel. Then these bacteria produce gas and the short chain fatty acids. Short chain fatty acids provide some of the beneficial effects and are helpful in maintaining blood glucose levels. They also reduce LDL levels which is a bad cholesterol and triglycerides. The food sources of soluble fiber includes Oats, Flax seed, Barley, psyllium husk, Apples, Carrots, Orange, Beans, Peas, Nuts, Soy.
 
Pectins: Pectins are soluble fibers and are mostly abundant in fruits.

Gums: Gums are soluble fibers.They are viscous and found in seeds. Examples of gum guar gum etc.

Mucilages: It is a soluble fiber and thick sticky substance. It is mostly used in medicines.

Insoluble Fiber: Insoluble fiber leads bulk to food and prevents constipation, piles,appendicitis. Insoluble fibers are cellulose, hemicelluloses and lignin. It improves the health of digestive system by increasing bulk in stool and it stimulates normal bowel movements. Insoluble fiber helps in preventing digestive disorders like diverticulitis , constipation and irritable bowel syndrome. Lignin is a insoluble fiber which acts as antioxidant. The food sources of insoluble fiber includes whole wheat, brown rice, popcorn, Peanuts, Fruits, Vegetables, Flax seeds.

Cellulose: Cellulose is a insoluble fiber. It is found in cell walls of plant.