Over the past 40-50 years, dietary fiber has become a leading “dietary star” when it comes to the prevention of chronic diseases. High fiber intakes are associated with all kinds of health benefits from weight to glycemic control and a reduced risk of developing heart diseases (1). Dietary fiber is split into soluble and insoluble fiber (2). The first category is found in dried beans, certain fruits, and oat products, while the insoluble fiber is found in certain plant foods.
Insoluble fiber is usually what people mean when they talk about “fiber”. From wheat bran to seeds, nuts and different kinds of beans, you can gather insoluble fiber. This type of dietary fiber is called “insoluble” because it doesn’t break down easily in your digestive tract. Instead, it remains almost intact as it moves through your gastrointestinal tract, speeding up the bowel movement and helping with the whole digestive process (3). Insoluble fiber’s main composition is cellulose (4). Both soluble and insoluble fibers are recommended to be consumed in quantities of at least 25-30 grams a day. Most of it should be insoluble fiber which solves one of the most frequent problems of our 21st century: constipation. It basically adds bulk to your stool and helps move the contents of your bowels.
Dietary fiber as a whole is widely accepted as a good source of health when it comes to everyday diet. Clinical studies have shown that the different types of fiber can exert benefits for bowel function, gut health, immunity, blood glucose control or serum lipid levels. (5)
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Benefits of Insoluble Fiber
Insoluble fiber is usually known as fiber which helps with your digestive process. One of the most frequent and most hush-hush health problems of our modern days is constipation. Most people don’t mind it and take it easy, but it is important to know that chronic constipation can lead to a lot of health problems in the future. So, insoluble fiber is mostly good in cases of constipation and also helps prevent the risk of diverticular disease (6).
1. Prevents Constipation.
Constipation is “a condition of the digestive system where an individual has hard feces that are difficult to expel. In most cases, this occurs because the colon has absorbed too much water from the food that is in the colon“. Also, constipation can be triggered by constipation causing foods, insufficient physical activity, certain medications and even aging or a chaotic and stressful lifestyle. Laxatives should be a last resort in the fight against constipation. Insoluble fiber should be the first treatment. How can it help?
Well, insoluble fiber is mostly the cell walls of plants. It is an indigestible material whose sole purpose is to sit in the gastrointestinal tract (7). It doesn’t sit there forever, but rather starts moving with the other byproducts of digestion while absorbing fluid and sticking to it. The insoluble fiber’s presence in the digestive tract speeds up the bowel movement, goes through any gastrointestinal blockages and ads weight to the stool (8).
2. Lower risks of diverticular disease.
Constipation can determine the development of small folds and hemorrhoids in the colon, which, if not treated correctly can lead to colorectal cancer (9). Insoluble fiber can help prevent constipation and any kind of intestinal blockages, thus helping reduce the risk of developing greater complications in the future.
All in all, dietary fiber is one of the most effective ways to prevent and relieve certain chronic diseases. On the whole, the effects of insoluble fiber have been thought to be only on the area of fecal bulking and digestive support. There are some studies, though, which also proved the anti-obesity and glucose homeostasis improvement after intake of a daily dose of insoluble fiber from pear pomace (10). Thus, the effects of insoluble fiber are still researched and things are looking good.
3. Promotes Weight loss.
Insoluble fiber has no calories and it stays in your digestive tract for long which makes your brain think that you’re full (11). This prevents you from overeating and in turn, helps you lower weight because you’ll be intaking lesser calories overall (12).
4. Could Lower the Risk of Cancer.
Insoluble fiber promotes the removal of waste from the body, as discussed above, and this eliminates the toxic substances that develop in the body as a by-product of digestion. It can help in lowering the risk of developing some types of cancer like colon cancer (13). Insoluble fiber also helps maintain the optimum pH level in the intestines, preventing bacteria from forming cancerous substances (14).