Fiber. A Real Miracle Health Substance.

By at November 19, 2013 | 4:47 pm | Print

Fiber. A Real Miracle Health Substance.

Fiber! A Real Miracle Health Substance.
by Professor Jay

We are always looking for a miracle health substance. Well fiber is as close as I can find to one actually existing. If I made up a fancy name for it such as Rebif (fiber spelled backwards), it would be the next hottest substance sold on the market. You’ll see what I mean after you read all the benefits of fiber.

We are going to look at the dietary fiber that can be defined as carbohydrates (derived from plant cell walls) that cannot be digested by human enzymes within the digestive tract. Keep in mind that there are 3 major classes of dietary carbohydrates: sugar, starch, and fiber.

3 Carbohydrates

1. Sugar – Common dietary sugars include glucose, fructose, sucrose and lactose.

2. Starch – Starch which made up of units of glucose is ultimately broken down in the small intestine by our enzymes and absorbed into the blood as glucose.

3. Fiber – Fiber is a carbohydrate (made up of sugars) that we do not digest with our enzymes, and therefore we do not absorb the sugars that make it up – as we do with starch. Some dietary fiber is converted to fatty acids by bacteria in our large intestines and can be absorbed and used as energy – but not much. However, there are animals – grazing animals such as cows – that do digest fiber and use it as a major energy source.
*Note: Bacteria in our large intestine not only convert a portion of fiber to fatty acids, but also to methane and hydrogen gas. Yes, this is why cabbage and beans increase flatus (intestinal gas).

So if we don’t derive much energy from fiber, why is it so important that we get it in our diets?

I’ll Give You 7 Reasons.

1. Prevents Overeating (i.e. aids in weight loss)

When we eat meals high in fiber it fills our stomach. A signal of satiety (fullness) is a full belly. This signals us to stop eating, i.e. prevents overeating. Also, keep in mind that, although you have a full belly, most of the fiber will not count as calories, as it will simply pass through your digestive tract. Soluble fiber, especially, holds water and slows our stomach from emptying which makes us feel fuller longer. Since fiber makes us feel full, it encourages us to eat less. This translates into weight loss. Regularly making meals that contain fiber for your family can translate into family weight loss.


2. Regulates Blood Sugar and Insulin Levels

Soluble fiber slows the rate of sugar absorption. This helps regulate blood sugar and insulin levels. A high fiber meal can help prevent sugar and insulin spikes. Although this has health benefits for everyone, this is especially important for those with diabetes.


3. Good for Your Heart

How can this be? Since fiber doesn’t get absorbed into your blood it can certainly never make it to your heart. How can claims be made on cereals and breads that it is good for your cardiovascular (heart and blood vessels) health? Well, let me give you a simplified explanation. Soluble fiber binds to and ultimately decreases the absorption of cholesterol into your blood.  Therefore, it can decrease your overall blood cholesterol levels. If high cholesterol levels are associated with heart disease, then lowering cholesterol levels must be a good thing.  *Note: Fibers effect of lowing blood cholesterol levels is due to a series of events much too complex to be elaborated on here.


4. Decrease Risk of Colon Cancer

Fiber keeps cells of the colon healthy. Although we don’t directly break down and use fiber for much energy, the bacteria that live in our large intestine love it. Fiber encourages the growth of healthy bacteria in our colon that are believed to detoxify, decrease the presence of carcinogens (cancer causing agents), and inhibit tumor cell formation i.e. colon cancer.


5. Prevents constipation (keeps us regular)

Insoluble fiber moves into the large intestine and adds bulk to our feces. This increased bulk stretches the large intestine which results in stimulating motility (movement) of the large intestine. This increased movement keeps everything moving at a regular rate. We say it “decreases the transit time” in which the feces is moved through.

This is beneficial in keeping our colon healthy, because it decreases the time that carcinogens (cancer causing agents) sit on the colon wall. In other words, the less time carcinogens spend touching your colon wall the less chance that something bad could happen.


6. Prevents and Treats Diverticulosis

Diverticulosis is a condition where the muscle wall of the colon becomes weak and pouches are formed. These pouches can then become inflamed, i.e. diverticulitis. Fiber can help prevent, as well as help treat this condition.


7. Sources of Fiber Naturally Promote a Healthy Diet

If you are getting the recommended 20-40 grams of fiber in your diet, then you are probably eating a good mixture of fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and whole grain cereals and breads. This makes for a healthy diet because not only do these foods contain fiber, but they are also high in vitamins, minerals, proteins, and carbohydrates. Yes, everything a balanced healthy diet requires.


Both soluble fiber and insoluble fiber each have important benefits. Therefore, it is important to get both into your diet. Here are some common places where you can get each of them.

Sources of Soluble Fiber – fruits, oats, barley, and legumes.

Sources of Insoluble fiber – vegetables, wheat, grains

Follow the fiber and you will find yourself eating a healthy diet.



Be Sociable, Share!

Latest Professor Jay , , , , , ,

Related Posts

Trackbacks For This Post

  1. […] There are 3 classes of carbohydrates that we get in our diets. They are sugar, starch, and fiber. Let’s explore […]

One Comment

Leave a Reply → Understanding Dietary Sugar | My Family Plate