Dietary fibers are the unsung heroes of our nutritional needs, playing a pivotal role in supporting digestive health, promoting satiety, and aiding in weight management. In this groundbreaking sequel, we will unveil 4 key dietary fibers that are not only vital for our well-being but are found solely in plant-based foods.
Prepare to be amazed as we delve into the intricate complexities of these remarkable fibers. We will unravel their unique properties, delve into their potential health benefits, and explore the diverse range of plant-based sources that contain them. Through this exploration, we aim to ignite your curiosity, challenge preconceived notions, and empower you to make informed choices about your dietary habits.
Table of Contents
Dietary Fibers – What are those?
In general, plant pieces that can’t be digested in the upper digestive tract are referred to as dietary fiber, so-called roughage or bulk. Fiber, unlike other meal components such as lipids, proteins, and carbs, which your body digests and absorbs, cannot be digested or absorbed by your body. Instead, it goes through your stomach, small intestine, and colon largely intact before exiting your body. They also have many beneficial effects: they make water retention, food absorption, bowel function, digestion more efficient; they absorb bile acid salts and cholesterol and bind some of the gases produced during digestion.
There are 2 types of dietary fibers, soluble and insoluble fiber:
- Soluble fiber: can dissolve in water. This type of fiber can be found mainly in oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, barley and has a positive impact on regulating blood cholesterol and glucose level.
- Insoluble fiber: cannot dissolve in water. Insoluble fiber foods include in whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts, legumes, and vegetables such as cauliflower, green beans, and potatoes. It accelerates the flow of material through your digestive system and increases stool bulk, therefore, beneficial in reducing constipation or irregular stools.
What are the benefits of Dietary Fiber?
Dietary fiber exists largely in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. What is probably the most popular of this content is its ability to prevent or relieve constipation. However, many other positive benefits on health have been attributed to a high fiber consumption, these are:
- Reduced cholesterol.
- Decreased risk of heart disease, constipation, and colon cancer.
- Increased fullness after a meal, aiding in weight loss.
- Several types of fiber are prebiotics, which means they can enhance colon health by encouraging the development of good bacteria.
These are the 4 types of dietary fiber that have been proven to be good for human health:
One of the most extensively researched soluble fiber kinds is beta-glucan. The bran of oats and barley are the highest sources of beta-glucan while other whole-grain cereals like sorghum, rye, wheat, and rice contain less of this fiber.
It is a viscous fiber that has a number of health advantages. As a potent prebiotic, beta-glucan ferments in the colon and encourages the development of advantageous bifidobacteria resulting in better colon health and lower risk of colorectal cancer.
Moreover, studies have shown that it may have a positive impact on lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels, as well as regulating blood sugar levels after meals and minimizing the chance of having diabetes.
Pectin is another soluble fiber also known as a polysaccharide, which is a lengthy chain of indigestible carbohydrates. Fruits such as oranges, apples, plums, guavas, bananas, and a variety of berries are the main dietary sources of pectins.
They come in a variety of shapes and have varying health consequences. Pectins might encourage the development of good bacteria in the colon and support the prevention of colon cancer, according to studies. Another paper shows that due to the ability of modulating gut microbiota, pectin can be beneficial in allergy treatment. They might also control blood sugar levels after meals and relieve persistent diarrhea.
Unlike Beta-glucan and Pectin, Cellulose is an insoluble fiber. Various amounts of cellulose can be found in fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds, and occur more in the skin than the flesh of the plant.
When cellulose is ingested, it can assist the movement of food through the digestive system, promote regular bowel motions, and produce healthy gut bacteria. In addition to aiding digestion, dietary fibers such as cellulose may enhance health in other ways. According to research, a high fiber intake may reduce the risk of numerous ailments, including stomach cancer and heart disease.
The most prevalent carbohydrate in plants is starch. Although it is typically well-digested, some of it might not be. Resistant starch is the name given to this kind of starch.
Several high-carb foods, such as whole-grain cereals, pasta, legumes, unripe bananas, and potatoes that have cooled after cooking, contain resistant starch.
The growth of wholesome bacteria in the colon is also encouraged by resistant starch, which improves colon health. Furthermore, resistant starch may assist in weight management through increasing fullness, maintain healthy blood sugar levels, and lower the chance of developing diabetes.
In conclusion, the discovery and exploration of the 4 key dietary fibers found exclusively in plant-based foods have opened up new horizons in the realm of nutrition. These fibers, with their unique properties and health benefits, showcase the immense potential of a plant-based diet. By embracing these plant-based sources, we can enhance our digestive health, promote satiety, and support overall well-being.
Don’t forget to check out the first part of this series, in case you miss it: Going Beyond Meat I: 6 Vital Nutrients Found Only in Plant-Based Foods >
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