We find fiber in our daily diet in substances that are not digested or absorbed by the small intestines, primarily carbohydrates and similar materials. Why is fiber so important for the human body?
Fiber increases the speed of food’s transit through the digestive tract, particularly in the colon, absorbing water and binding substances from food, such as cholesterol. If we do not consume enough fiber (as is more than likely according to recent data), there is a risk of major cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes developing, to name but two conditions.
Daily fiber intake by an adult should be 25–30 grams. A child’s intake is determined by taking his or her age and adding five to that number to determine the grams required (a four year old child, for example, should eat at least nine grams of fiber a day).
It should be emphasised that “there is no fiber like fiber.” In various foods there is a marked difference in the fiber composition as well as in its health benefits. It is advisable to receive fiber as part of a normal diet, namely through fruits, vegetables and whole grains rather than in fiber enriched foods or isolated in the form of food supplements.
Consumption of Dietary Fiber
Most people in the developed world fall far short in the consumption of dietary fiber. The average daily consumption according to surveys falls around 12 grams, with little distinction between men and women. That is less than 50 percent of the recommended daily dose.
Fiber can be divided into two groups based on aqueous solubility:
1/ Soluble fiber is present in many types of food, including:
* legumes (peas, soybeans, beans)
* oats, rye, barley
* some fruit (especially apples and bananas) and berries
* some vegetables such as broccoli and carrots
* root vegetables
2/ Sources of insoluble fiber include:
* whole grain foods
* nuts and seeds
* vegetables (green beans, cauliflower, zucchini, celery)
* the skin of certain fruits and tomatoes
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