Everyone talks about it, but what is fiber anyway?
The Food and Nutrition Board assembled a panel that came up with the following definitions:
Dietary fiber consists of nondigestible carbohydrates and lignin that are intrinsic and intact in plants. This includes plant nonstarch polysaccharides (for example, cellulose, pectin, gums, hemicellulose, and fibers contained in oat and wheat bran), oligosaccharides, lignin, and some resistant starch.
Functional fiber consists of isolated, nondigestible carbohydrates that have beneficial physiological effects in humans. This includes nondigestible plant (for example, resistant starch, pectin, and gums), chitin, chitosan, or commercially produced (for example, resistant starch, polydextrose, inulin, and indigestible dextrins) carbohydrates.
Total fiber is the sum of dietary fiber and functional fiber.
Fiber is also referred to as bulk or roughage; no matter what you call it, fiber is an essential part of everyone’s diet. While fiber does fall under the category of carbohydrates, it does not provide the same number of calories, nor is it processed the way that other sources of carbohydrates are.
This difference can be seen in two categories that fiber is divided into:
Soluble fiber dissolves in water to form a gel-like substance. Sources of soluble fiber are oats, legumes (beans, peas, and soybeans), apples, bananas, berries, barely, some vegetables, and psylluim. It is like a sponge soaking up bad cholesterol (LDL).
Insoluble fiber increases the movement of material through your digestive tract and increases your stool bulk. Sources of insoluble fiber are whole wheat foods, bran, nuts, seeds, and the skin of some fruits and vegetables. It is like a broom scraping away waste.
All fiber slows down the digestion of food and therefore is very satisfying. Eat it up!
Some ways of increasing fiber in your diet:
~Eat the skin: most of the fiber of apples, pears or potatoes is in the skin!
~Read the nutritional labels!
~Choose breads that have at least 4 g of fiber per serving
~Cook veggies briefly; the longer they cook ,the more fiber they lose.
The higher the fiber content of a single food or a meal in total, the harder and longer the body has to work to digest it, which is a weight loss advantage in three ways: (1) the body burns more calories just digesting your food, (2) you stay full longer, and (3) your appetite is reduced because as the absorption slows down, so does the rate at which the blood sugar rises and falls.