{STEP 1.5}  What is Fiber?

More than ever, people are asking 'What is fiber and why is it such a big deal?'  The topic routinely receives media coverage and drawn research from academia circles.

Fiber is one of the two kinds of complex carbohydrates composed of a long chain of glucose molecules.  However, unlike starches it cannot be broken down well by the digestive enzymes in our bodies for energy.  The bond that holds the glucose molecules together is much stronger and is the reason behind their inability to be digested.  

Soluble fiber can be dissolved in water and takes on the form of a gel.  It adds texture and consistency to food that is appealing.  Insoluble fiber has the opposite properties and remains rigid and tough even through cooking processes.

Drink MORE water when increasing your fiber intake.

So why has fiber made such a big splash in media if it doesn't provide energy for our body and we can't even digest it?

Knowing "what is fiber?" is only half of the answer.  It turns out that fiber benefits our body much more than we ever thought!

It Helps Keep Things Moving in the Right Direction

The health benefits of fiber are constantly being researched.  There are four benefits that are well documented and generally accepted.  Half are associated with soluble fiber and the other half result from insoluble fiber intake.

The first is the ability to normalize blood cholesterol and keep it at healthy levels.  When fiber dissolves in water it is able to interact with bile in the intestines.  Bile is produced in the liver to deal with the breakdown of lipids and is partly composed of cholesterol.  

Soluble fiber is believed to bind to excess bile, removing it from the intestine as waste, resulting in a lower overall cholesterol level.  

When soluble fibers are consumed in the diet they also have the ability to regulate glucose levels in the bloodstream.  Even though fibers that dissolve in water can't be digested they are able to influence digestion by delaying the transit time of nutrients to the bloodstream.  Think of them as obstacles that create traffic on the internal nutrient beltway.  

Low blood cholesterol is associated with lower risk of cardiovascular diseases and regulating blood glucose level is a paramount concern of diabetics as well as an important part of creating your healthy diet.

Insoluble fibers possess a unique quality that directly influences our body's psychological need for food.  They create a feeling of satiety and fullness by adding bulk to food without any Calories.  Unlike their counterpart which can be slightly fermented in the intestine, insoluble fiber passes through the entire digestive system untouched.  

These types of fibers enlarge and soften stools which helps ease elimination and speed up the transit time in the colon.  The less time waste spends in the large intestine is a good thing.  The reduced pressure in the colon from softer stools also helps prevent a number problems arriving from constipation.

Can You Ever Have Too Much of a Good Thing?

What is fiber?  An amazing nutrient that provides great health benefits and marginal energy output.  Maybe we should strive to eat as much fiber as possible?  When something sounds too good to be true, that is often the case.

Just remember, one of the Components of a Healthy Diet is balance.  

Too much fiber has worst case scenarios but the common consequence is the displacement of other nutrients for our bodies.  Some fibers can create a link with essential minerals and carry them out of the body before they can be absorbed by the intestine.  The other main concern with fiber is it attracts and absorbs water creating a situation for potential dehydration.

Insoluble and Soluble Fiber both are beneficial to your healthy diet despite our body's inability to digest it.

However, the fact of the matter is fiber tends to be on the list of nutrients that people don't get enough of in the modern diet.  We will establish a guideline for your customized healthy diet plan to create an ideal balance.  

You will get an adequate amount to reap the benefits, but not so much to cause problems.

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Read these articles to get a basic understanding of the concepts...

  1. Benefits of a Healthy Diet:  Reasons to Change Your Life for the Better

  2. What are Carbohydrates and Do You Really Need Them?

  3. What are Lipids and Are They as Scary as They Sound?

  4. What is Protein and How Does My Body Actually Use It?

  5. What is Fiber and Why is It So Important to a Healthy Diet?

  6. What are Vitamins?  For Starters... They're Essential Nutrients

  7. What is a Healthy Diet?  Its Core Components Explained

**As always, feel free to use the navigation below to backtrack and get an overview of Healthy Diet Mentor and our plan to get you on your way to a lifelong healthy diet.

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