Some medical doctors and experienced nutritionists feel that the intake of dietary fiber in the proper amounts is one of the most important things a person can do for their health. Research shows that most people in the United States eat about half the fiber that is needed in the human body each day.
Scientific studies over the past 20 years indicate that fiber is crucial to maintaining overall health. The right type and amount of dietary fiber can also help prevent major diseases and health conditions such as cancer of the colon, irritable bowels and hemorrhoids.
The key to fiber’s part in the health of the body is that it is not digestible. While this may sound like just the opposite of what food items should do, it’s not. Fiber is the longer, thread-like part of fruits, vegetables and grains and can be both soluble and insoluble. The first will dissolve in the water that is a natural part of digestion, while insoluble fiber does not dissolve. One of the key benefits of fiber in the diet is that it helps control the pace at which the stomach empties. This may be a benefit for those who wish to lose weight. It’s interesting to note that fiber combined with water in the stomach makes the person feel full and they may actually eat a bit less.
Fiber also helps people lose weight by holding down the number of calories, primarily because fiber is filling and controls the appetite. In recent years scientists discovered the hormone CCK that is key in a person’s feeling full. High-fiber foods may help CCK production in the body. One way that fiber helps weight loss is known as the “fiber-flush” effect that restricts calorie absorption. Over a longer period of time this effect alone may result in the loss of several pounds. Medical studies have shown that foods that are high in fiber have low energy density. Essentially, some foods are high in fiber and low in calories.
Every diet, weight-loss and general health book includes information about the importance of dietary fiber, both soluble and insoluble. Doctors and nutritionists emphasize that fiber in correct amounts should be part of the daily diet, whether from vegetables, grains or fruits. Diets that focus on low-carbohydrate intake may not contain enough fiber for general health, according to most research.
Whole grains in bread and cereals are considered great sources of fiber in the diet. Perhaps most important is the effect fiber has on carbohydrates. It effectively slows the rate at which carbohydrates are converted into sugar.
Not only is this important in maintaining a desired or healthy weight, it also helps balance the level of sugar in the blood. This is a key to overall health and to how the body gains or loses weight. Most advice on fiber intake and the gain or loss of weight emphasizes that fiber will assist the body in using the glucose (sugar) in fat that is stored by the body. Fiber helps the human being become more adept at burning fat.