Most health experts these days are encouraging consumers to eat more fiber. This is due to the evidence that insufficient levels of fiber in the diet can lead to several diseases. Common among these diseases are diabetes, constipation, obesity and colon cancer. These diseases are life threatening diseases you wouldn’t want to associate with.
Eating high animal fat is linked to increase risk of colon cancer. High intake of fiber however protects against colon cancer. This is done by speeding up the passage of food through the digestive tract, thus shortening the time of exposure of the tissues to agents in food that might possibly cause colon cancer.
So, how does fiber help prevent constipation and hemorrhoids? Insoluble fibers hold much water in the colon (large intestine), thus providing bulk which stimulate the muscles of the digestive tract so that they can retain their health and tone. By so doing, the toned muscles can more easily move waste products through the colon for excretion.
Fibers bind cholesterol compounds and remove them from the body alongside feces, and inhibit the production of cholesterol in the body as well as enhancing the clearance of cholesterol from the blood. The result of this is that, the risk of heart diseases such as atherosclerosis is lowered.
Eating high fiber diets help reduce the risk of diabetes (diabetes normally increases the risk of coronary heart diseases). Fiber fights or prevents the risk of diabetes by improving blood sugar tolerance and reducing insulin secretion thus delaying glucose absorption. Fiber also lowers the energy density of the diet thus reducing the risk of obesity.
Forms of Fiber
Fiber has two forms which are; soluble fibers and insoluble fibers. These two forms of fibers found in diet helps prevent many diseases. Insoluble fibers do not dissolve in water and include fiber types called cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin. Soluble fibers on the other hand dissolve or swell when placed in water. They include fiber types such as pectin, gums and mucilage.
Sources of Fiber
Dietary sources of insoluble fibers include fruit sources such as bananas, apples, peaches, pears and strawberries. Vegetable sources are root vegetables, mature vegetables, cauliflower, tomatoes and cabbage. Other sources are rice bran, brown rice, seeds, plums, wheat bran, nuts, corn bran, legumes, whole-grain and cereals.
Fruit sources of soluble fibers are citrus fruits, apples, bananas, pears and grapes. Other dietary sources include legumes, sweet potatoes, apricots, barley, corn, potatoes, prunes, oatmeal, oat bran and vegetables such as cabbage, carrots and broccoli.