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December 28, 2016 | Family Medicine
You’ve probably heard talk about eating a high-fiber diet, but do you know what fiber is or what it does for the body?
Dietary fiber is much more than a chic trend or a fun fact to know about. It’s one of the most important elements involved in our digestion of food, and healthy levels of fiber act as a shield against certain kinds of conditions.
So just what is fiber, and how does it help your body? Here’s a basic look.
Dietary fiber refers to the elements of plant foods that your body is naturally unable to process like most other foods. Almost all other nutrients in the foods we eat break down during the digestive process and spread to where they’re needed in the body, but fiber passes through with very little change before leaving your body.
Fiber is in all sorts of food, even in some food we might consider “bad.” It also has several potential benefits for your digestive system.
There are two primary types of dietary fiber:
Many foods contain both kinds of fiber – it’s possible for them to exist at the same time within a single food type.
A diet with the right amounts and types of fiber can have specific benefits for both the digestive system and the entire body as a whole. A few of the key benefits include:
Most plant-based foods are naturally high in fiber, but those that are commonly eaten by people trying to add more fiber to their diet include:
The amount of fiber needed in your diet can vary from person to person, but in general, the Institute of Medicine recommends portion sizes based on gender and age.
While fiber is important, you can’t eat nothing but fiber and expect only good results. Everything in the body needs moderation, even the stuff that’s good for you. Try to balance your diet between soluble and insoluble fibers where you can, and use them as part of an overall healthy diet. They’ll help regulate your digestion and keep things moving correctly through your system.
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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.