What is dietary fiber and why do you need

What is fiber

Dietary fiber is type of substance usually derived from plant source of foods. Unlike other foods, digestive system can’t break down fiber for digestion and absorption. Hence fiber provide no calorie. It passes through the digestive tract of the body undigested. Then why we need it? Because it has some unique role in promoting health of the body and prevents some diseases. Food containing fiber moves through the digestive tract slowly, that slower the digestion and absorption process. Faster digestion and absorption cause faster release of energy to the blood stream and if you do not utilize it in that rate, it will be stored as fat. In this way fiber helps in controlling  calorie release in bloodstream. Moreover fiber rich food gives you feeling of fullness and you will feel hunger for longer time.

Types of dietary fiber

Fibers are classified broadly in two categories based on solubility on water.

Soluble fiber

Soluble fiber dissolves in water of stomach and forms a gel like substance. It binds with substances like cholesterol and sugar which prevents or slows the absorption process into the bloodstream. In that way it helps in regulating blood sugar level and lowering serum cholesterol.

Soluble fiber also helps in growth of health beneficial colon bacteria. Soluble fibers are mostly good source of food to those health beneficial colon bacteria (1) and in exchange they return us some beneficial vitamins and nutrients.

They are further categorised as pectins, beta-glucan, inulin, gums, psyllium,  aResistant starch nd others. Common source includes oats, barley, beans, peas, lentils, millets, chia seed, psyllium seed, flax seed, fruits and vegetables such as berries, apples, orange, carrot, okra, Brussels sprout, asparagus and more.

Insoluble fiber

Digestive system can’t break down insoluble fiber for digestion. Fiber helps in slow digestion of food and movement of the materials inside the intestine and increases the faces bulk. Fiber speeds up the excretion of waste and toxin materials from the body and helps in preventing many diseases which occurs as a result of long sitting of toxins inside the intestine and also helps in preventing constipation.

It scrubs the inner lining of digestive system to keep it clean and healthy.

Common sources of insoluble fiber include beans and whole grains such as quinoa, oats, green beans, green peas, soybeans, lima beans, popcorn, wheat bran etc, fruits and vegetables such as broccoli, kale, carrot, Brussels sprouts, okra, sweet potato, artichoke, asparagus, Blueberries, apple with skin, apricot, figs, pear, prunes, plums, strawberries, raspberries, orange, nuts and more.

Final Word:

Both soluble and insoluble types dietary fibers are important for good health. Both types of fibers usually come with varying proportions in almost all dietary plant food i.e. legumes, nuts, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Insoluble fiber is usually tough hard to chew outer layer, inner part contains soluble fiber. Daily 20 – 30 grams of total fiber is needed. By adding variety of whole plant based food in diet you may able to get the desirable intake of fiber. Consumption of excessive fiber may cause gas, boating, abdominal pain etc.

Adequate intake of fiber helps in normal bowl movement with one or two times in a day. Normal stools are light brown and continuous. If your stools are in short pieces your diet may lack adequate fiber.


Dietary fiber is not always suits for everyone. Perbiotics of FODMAPs that is foods that feed bacteria can worsen the condition to individual with specific condition like SIBO(Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth, IBS. Hence people with such health conditions may restrict foods that feed bacteria. Apart from that consumption of excessive fiber may also sometimes cause gas, boating, abdominal pain etc.

You may also read Health benefits of eating dietary fiber

Disclaimer:This article is for informational purpose only
Source and ref.
1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22555633
Book Ref.-Quick & Easy Diet Cures for Iron Deficiency Anemia-by Rudy S. Silva
Bikramjit Konwar

Author: Bikramjit Konwar


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