What Is Fiber & Why It Matters

| Patient Education

What is Fiber?

Medical experts define fiber as a type of carbohydrate that the body can't digest. Though most carbohydrates are broken down into sugar molecules, fiber cannot be broken down into sugar molecules, and instead, it passes through the body undigested. Fiber helps regulate the body's use of sugars, helping to keep hunger and blood sugar in check.

Simply put, fiber has many health benefits and can be found in a variety of tasty fruits, grains, and vegetables. We’re talking beans (lentils in soups are a great way to sneak in some fiber), berries, avocados, apples, berries, and popcorn—now you can make movie night delicious and healthy with fiber.

That said, there are two different types of fiber.

Two Types of Fiber

Soluble fiber attracts water and turns to gel during digestion. This slows digestion. Soluble fiber is found in oat bran, barley, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, peas, and some fruits and vegetables. Some types of soluble fiber may help lower the risk of heart disease.

Insoluble fiber is found in foods such as wheat bran, vegetables, and whole grains. It adds bulk to the stool and appears to help food pass more quickly through the stomach and intestines. Again, helping to prevent or ease constipation.

Benefits of a High Fiber Diet

At some point in your life, you heard someone say, “Eat more fiber!” Many probably didn’t really understand why they even said it. Maybe it was something they heard their grandma say or a teacher perhaps—whatever the case, the statement is true. There are many benefits when it comes to health, fiber, and your diet.

  • Normalize bowel health and movements
  • Lower cholesterol levels
  • Helps control blood sugar levels
  • Aids in achieving healthy weight
  • Helps you live longer
  • A reduced risk when it comes to cardiovascular disease and all cancers

So you’ll hear it here again. EAT MORE FIBER! Try to get 20-30 grams of fiber daily. For instance, eating one cup of beans is roughly 25 grams of fiber. We’ve discussed a variety of food options to obtain a healthy, fiber-rich diet and how it plays an important role in your overall health. To learn more about fiber and how it benefits your health, visit our Nutrition Services page or schedule an appointment with our Nutrition Service Professionals by calling (812) 522-0718[1] .


Sources:

  • harvard.edu
  • medlineplus.gov
  • mayoclinic.org

About the Author

Kirby E. Stacks FNP-C

Kirby Stacks is a certified family nurse practitioner with Schneck Primary Care.

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