Fiber helps in Digestion. All of us have heard our elders say that we should eat vegetables and fruits to help with digestion. But is that true?
What is Fiber?
Any carbohydrate from a plant that you cannot digest and absorb, is fibre. Imagine if you could absorb everything that you eat – nothing would remain to be expelled! Processed foods that like refined flour, refined sugar, milk and anything made from these would be a good example.
Types of Fiber:
- Soluble fibre is that which is soluble in water.
- Insoluble fibre is that which is insoluble in water.
Some examples of fibers include non-starch polysaccharides such as cellulose, inulin, lignin, dextrins, pectins, waxes, oligosaccharides, etc.
Tracking Fiber along the Digestive Tract:
Fiber makes you chew your food well and allow saliva to start digesting it.
Compare eating potato chips or a butter cookie to eating an apple. While the cookie melts and the potato chips only need a few times of chewing, an apple wedge will keep you going for a while. And with an orange you would really have to chew it well before you get to swallowing it. And while you are doing this chewing a lot of saliva is being secreted along with what you are chewing. Saliva carries out the first steps of digestion. Saliva starts breaking down the sugars in the mouth while signaling the rest of the digestive tract about what is coming.
Fiber makes you feel full.
Ponder over this: How many wafers of chips can you eat at one go? How many apples can you eat at once?
When the food you eat contains fiber, it forms a kind of gel with the water in the stomach. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to whatever you eat and fills up the stomach real quick. This makes you feel like your stomach is full once you have eaten the right amount of food and prevents you from overeating.
Small and Large Intestine:
Fiber prevents the body from absorbing too much fat and feeds the good microbes in the gut.
The gel formed by soluble fibre makes it hard for your intestine to absorb too much fat. Imagine trying to absorb something from your toothpaste, through the tube. You’d only be able to get what is on the surface, in contact with the tube. Even if you squeeze it and move the toothpaste around, it would be difficult to absorb too much. Though fiber is not particularly absorbed by the intestine, this acts as food for the microbial flora living there. Many of these bacteria synthesise important chemicals. This includes Vitamin K and Vitamin B12, apart from a host of other functions that keep your intestines healthy. Without fibre, they’d all die, letting disease-causing bacteria colonize in your intestines.
Without fibre, it’s a completely different story:
The intestines are free to absorb as much fat as they want, and you end up with a lot more fat in your body than you bargained for.
Fat and Fiber don’t go together!
Any food that is rich in fiber usually has very low fat content. So this is something you keep looking out for if you are trying to lose weight. Fibre is the main component of food that reduces and stops constipation from happening.
What doesn’t have fibre?
All processed foods.
There are two reasons for this:
- Fibrous food tends to get spoilt faster than non-fibrous food.
- Fibre increases weight of the food, reducing the amount you can transport and export, reducing profit.
What has fibre?
Any plant-based-whole-food you pick is rich in fiber. For example, unpolished rice has fibre, while polished rice does not. All natural foods have fibre, but if you’re interested in knowing which foods have the maximum amount of fibre, to help you lose weight. All fruits and vegetables are great sources of fiber.
Chow down, and keep those bowels moving! Contact us to get a personalized consultation with one of our naturopaths to customize a diet plan for you.