What Is Dietary Fiber? Why Should You Consume It More?

It isn't difficult in selecting tasty foods that provide fiber. Find out how much dietary fiber you need, the foods that contain it, and how to add them to meals and snacks

Dietary fiber is found mainly in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. It is best known for its ability to prevent or relieve constipation.

Foods containing fiber have many other health benefits too. Such foods help to maintain a healthy weight and lowering your risk of diabetes, heart disease, and many types of cancer.

It isn’t difficult in selecting tasty foods that provide fiber. Find out how much dietary fiber you need, the foods that contain it, and how to add them to meals and snacks.

What is dietary fiber?

“Fiber is the edible parts of plants or analogous carbohydrates that are resistant to digestion and absorption in the human small intestine, with complete or partial fermentation in the large intestine. Dietary fiber includes polysaccharides, oligosaccharides, lignin, and associated plant substances”, says Dr. Sharan Sodhi, Consultant Dietitian, at Therapeutic & Clinical Nutrition, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.

Types of dietary fiber

Broadly speaking, based on their solubility, dietary fibers are classified into two groups—soluble and insoluble dietary fibers.

Soluble dietary fibers include β-glucan, galactomannan, pectin, psyllium, inulin, and resistant starch, whereas insoluble fibers include cellulose, hemicellulose, chitosan, lignin, etc.

Why Is Fiber Good for You?

Fiber counts to be of paramount importance. Dietary fiber is the indigestible part of plant foods, such as fruit, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes. Fibre adds bulk to our stools, promotes the growth of healthy bacteria in our bowel, said Dr. Sodhi.

It acts as a sponge in absorbing fluid to soften the stools.

What are the benefits of dietary fiber?

Certain types of fiber promote weight loss, lower blood sugar levels, and fight constipation.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends consuming about 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories you consume daily. This translates to roughly 24 grams of fiber for women and 38 grams for men, explains Dr. Sodhi.

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