Published on March 8th, 2013 | by George Conte0
Dietary fiber benefits and sources
Dietary fiber is an umbrella term that includes plant substances not cleaved by the human gastrointestinal enzymes. Only a few bacteria and fungi and some species of insects and snails can deconstruct these plant fibers.
From a chemical point of view dietary fiber belongs to polysaccharides. One of the main characteristics of polysaccharides is the capacity to trap water molecules and swell.
Depending on the degree of water absorption from the dietary fiber molecules, fibers can be classified into two major groups:
Insoluble dietary fibers are cellulose, hemicelluloses and lignin. In this group belong polysaccharides with low molecular weight. These fibers can be expelled from the intestine almost unchanged.
Soluble fiber and benefits
Soluble dietary fibers are gums and pectins. Such fibers contain a large percentage of polysaccharides with high molecular weight. The particle size of the polysaccharide and the appropriate configuration give the ability to entrap large number of water molecules resulting in a gelatinous texture.
Because of that particular texture the soluble dietary fibers present interesting physiological actions and benefits for our health. Soluble dietary fibers can:
Potential negative effects from excessive consumption of dietary fiber
Some of the negative effects include reduced absorption of vitamins, minerals and proteins. The anaerobic fermentation of soluble dietary fibers in the small intestine leads to gas production such as carbon dioxide and methane which cause dilation of stomach and discomfort. To avoid such effects, it is suggested for a daily dietary fiber intake to be from 20g. to 35g. Any differentiation from those limits will cause other problems. Also children and elderly should follow a lower daily consumption.
Fiber rich foods
Almost all foods of plant origin contain both types of dietary fibers. Soluble dietary fibers are contained in relatively large percentages in dried beans, oats, barley, and some fruits and vegetables.
Great dietary fiber sources (per 100 grams servings) are:
|Source||Grams of dietary fiber|
|chia seeds, dried||38g|
|Beans, yellow, mature seeds, raw||25g|
|Apple with skin, raw||2g|
The daily consumption of appropriate amounts of dietary fibers has many advantages for our health and for weight loss as you can tell by now. Proper dietary fiber intake is one of the most important factors of a healthy, balanced and successful diet plan.