Fiber and its importance

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When you squeeze out the juice from a fresh orange without consuming the host of the juice, you are depriving yourself yet another opportunity of fiber consumption.

Fiber is also known as roughage. It is the indigestible part of plant foods that aids digestion. It absorbs water along the way and helps in bowel movements. Dietary fiber refers to nutrients in the diet that are not digested by gastrointestinal enzymes.

Fiber consists of non-starch polysaccharides, such as cellulose, dextrins, inulin, lignin, chitins, pectins, beta-glucans,waxes and oligosaccharides. There are two types of Fibre; soluble and Insoluble 

Soluble fiber dissolves in water. It changes as it goes through the digestive tract, where it is fermented by bacteria. With the absorption of water it becomes  gelatinous. 

Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water. As it goes through the digestive tract it does not change its form.

These sets of food contain high amounts of fiber.

                                    Soluble        Insoluble 

Cereal – ½ cup cooked

Barley                        1g                 4g

Oatmeal                        1g                 2g

Oatbran                        1g                 3g


Psyllium seeds 

ground (1 Tbsp)           5g                 6g

Fruit(one medium fruit) 

Apple                       1g                   4g

Banana                       1g                 3g

Blackberries (½ cup)1g                 4g

Citrus Fruit

(orange, grapefruit) 2g                 2-3g

Nectarine                 1g                 2g

Peach                         1g                 2g

Pear                         2g                 4g

Plum                         1g                 1.5g

Prunes (¼ cup)         1.5g                 3g

Legumes (½ cup cooked)

Black Beans                  2g                 5.5g

Kidney Beans          3g                 6g

Lima Beans                  3.5g               6.5g

Navy Beans                  2g                6g

Northern Beans          1.5g              5.5g

Pinto Beans                  2g               7g

Lentils (yellow, green, orange) 1g  8g

Chick Peas                    1g               6g

Black eyed Peas             1g       5.5g

Vegetables (½ cup cooked)

Broccoli                              1g       1.5g

Brussels Sprouts              3g       4.5g

Carrots                              1g       2.5g

 Benefits of insoluble fiber

Insoluble fibers have many functions, including moving bulk through the digestive tract, and controlling pH (acidity) levels in the intestines. Other benefits are;

Speeding up elimination of toxic waste  through colon. 

promotion of regular bowel movements and prevention  of constipation

prevention of colorectal cancer by denying microbes from producing harmful substances thereby  keeping an optimal pH level  in the intestines. 

The following food are sources of insoluble fiber : vegetables – especially dark green leafy ones, root vegetable skins, fruit skins, whole wheat products, wheat bran, corn bran, nuts, and seeds.

Benefits of Soluble Fiber are as follows ;

Regulation of  sugar levels by binding   fatty acids thereby slowing  down the time it takes to empty the stomach and the rate of sugar absorption by the body.

Reduction of cholesterol, especially levels of LDL (bad cholesterol)

Helpful in  sugar intake regulation for diabetes people. 

The following food are sources of soluble fiber: kidney beans, pinto beans, brussels sprouts, broccoli, spinach, zucchini, apples, oranges, grapefruit, grapes, prunes, oatmeal, and whole-wheat bread.

What quantity of soluble and insoluble fibers are needed daily?

The nutrionists recommend  fiber of 25g  for women below the age of 50 and 21g after the age of 50 while 38g for men below the age of 50 and 30g after the age of 50 .

Most dietitians are of the opinion that  your ratio of insoluble vs. soluble fiber should be 75% to 25%.  Most of highly fiber foods contain both soluble and Insoluble fiber and thus call for carefulness. Rather than being bookish, the important is consumption of the daily recommended 25g on the average. 

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