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Dietary Fiber: Types and Health Benefits
Fiber plays a role in many different aspects of your health, from keeping the gut healthy to reducing the risk of chronic diseases. Having adequate amounts of fiber in your diet can reduce your risk of heart disease and some types of cancer.
Fiber is found in most food groups including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. However, only about 5% of people in the United States meet the daily recommended value of fiber intake.
Here are some facts about fiber, the different types of fiber, and how they affect your body.
What is Fiber?
Fiber is a unique group of carbohydrates that your body cannot digest.1 This includes parts of plant foods that your body cannot absorb.2
Most carbohydrates can be broken down into glucose (sugar molecules), but fiber cannot. Because the body lacks the digestive enzymes necessary to breakdown fiber, they pass through your digestive system unchanged and intact.3
Types of Fiber
The two main types of fiber are soluble fiber, which dissolves in water, and insoluble fiber, which does not dissolve in water.2 Both types of fiber are beneficial to your health and play different roles in the body.
Soluble fiber blends with water in the gut, making a gel substance. Soluble fiber slows the digestion process, allowing your body to absorb sugar (glucose) at a slower pace, preventing blood sugar spikes.4
Soluble fiber binds with fatty acids and flushes them out of the body. This process helps to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and aids in a healthy heart. It also improves nutrient absorption and can help you stay full for a longer period of time.5
Insoluble fiber does not blend with water as soluble fiber does, and therefore passes through your digestive system unchanged.
Insoluble fiber helps to hydrate your body and move waste through the intestines. It can also help you to feel full and satisfied between meals, which can prevent unnecessary snacking.4
Health Benefits of Fiber
Dietary fiber, when consumed in the right amounts, can do a lot to help your body.
Here are some of the health benefits of fiber6:
- Maintain body weight
- Prevent hypertension
- Stabilizes blood sugar
- Appetite control
- Balance cholesterol levels
- Regulate bowel movements
- Helps prevent gastrointestinal blockages
- Regulate blood sugar
- Lower risk of diabetes
- Lower risk of colon cancer
Food Sources with Fiber
If you’re interested in adding more fiber to your diet naturally, there are many sources of both soluble and insoluble fiber you can consume.
Here are some foods with a high amount of fiber:
- Whole wheat foods
- Whole grain foods
- Vegetables, especially spinach and peas
- Potatoes and sweet potatoes
How to Add More Fiber to Your Diet
If you’re looking for ideas and tips to add more fiber to your meals and recipes, here are some suggestions:
- For breakfast, choose a high-fiber meal. This could be whole grain or bran cereal, oatmeal, or fruits.
- Switch to whole grains, which are a great source of fiber. Try whole grain bread instead of white, and bake with whole grain flour instead of white flour. There are also recipes, including muffins and cookies, that use whole grain or wheat bran as a healthy alternative.
- Eat more whole foods including fruits, vegetables, and beans. Adding these ingredients to each meal, or enjoying them as a snack, can increase your fiber intake.
- Add high-fiber ingredients to meals. Add almonds, chia seeds, or flaxseeds to your cereal, oatmeal, or yogurt. Add vegetables to stir-fry dishes, casseroles, and soups.
It’s important to note that you should gradually increase your fiber intake to allow your digestive system to adjust. If you are not used to eating fiber and switch to a high-fiber diet, you may experience intestinal gas, bloating, and cramps.
Add More Fiber to Your Diet Today
If you’re interested in the benefits of fiber, try adding more fiber-rich foods to your meals today.
Here at Saber Healthcare, we prioritize our residents and offer services and dietary options to help them meet their nutritional goals. Our dietary teams work hard to develop and create menus that are not only delicious but also meet residents’ daily nutrition needs.
Saber Healthcare is an organization that provides services to more than 115 buildings across the states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, Indiana, Delaware, and Florida. To learn more about our company and services, click here.
Saber Healthcare is an organization dedicated to providing consultant services to long-term care providers. This article is for informational purposes and is not meant to be seen as professional advice. Please consult with a medical expert before relying on the information provided.
- Leech, Joe. “Good Fiber, Bad Fiber – How The Different Types Affect You.” Healthline Media, healthline.com. June 4th, 2017. Accessed September 16th, 2022. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/different-types-of-fiber.
- “Dietary Fiber: Essential for a healthy diet.” Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, Mayo Clinic. January 6th, 2021. Accessed September 16th, 2022. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/fiber/art-20043983.
- “Fiber.” The President and Fellows of Harvard College, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Accessed September 16th, 2022. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/carbohydrates/fiber/.
- Felson, Sabrina. “Types of Fiber and Their Health Benefits.” WebMD, webmd.com. July 30th, 2020. Accessed September 16th, 2022. https://www.webmd.com/diet/compare-dietary-fibers.
- Levy, Jillian. “Top 25 Insoluble Fiber Foods and Surprising Benefits Beyond Constipation Relief.” Dr. Axe, draxe.com. April 23rd, 2019. Accessed September 16th, 2022. https://draxe.com/nutrition/insoluble-fiber/.
- Norris, Taylor. “What’s the Difference Between Soluble and Insoluble Fiber?” Healthline Media, healthline.com. March 1st, 2018. Accessed September 16th, 2022. https://www.healthline.com/health/soluble-vs-insoluble-fiber.