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What is Fiber and Why is Fiber Important in our Diet?

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- What is Fiber and Why is Fiber Important in our Diet? by Rosie2010 -

- What is Fiber and Why is Fiber Important in our Diet? by Rosie2010 -

Fiber is important to our health in so many ways. Studies show that eating foods high in fiber may help reduce the risk of certain cancers, diabetes, digestive disorders, and heart disease.

Did you know that the importance of fiber is relatively new? It's true. Before the 1970s, fiber was not part of good nutrition. In fact, it was considered a "hindrance" to good nutrition.

It was Dr. T.L. Cleave in 1969 who sparked the great debate on fiber, arguing that refined or fiber-depleted carbohydrates are harmful to our health. This view was supported by Dr. Denis Burkitt in 1970, who along with his colleagues through their work in Africa, made "the fiber hypothesis" which states that fiber can prevent certain diseases.

Now, isn't that interesting?

what-is-fiber-and-why-is-fiber-important

What is fiber?

Almost everyone hears that fiber is important in our diet, but not everyone fully understand what fiber is. Fiber is a special type of carbohydrate that passes through our digestive system virtually unchanged.

Carbohydrates constitute the main source of energy for all body functions. However, while fiber does fall under the category of carbohydrates, fiber is not processed the same way as other sources of carbohydrates.

Fiber is only found in foods that come from plants. You won't find any fiber in other types of food, such as meat, fish, or dairy products.

There are two main types of fiber, and they have different effects on the body:

  1. Soluble fiber - Soluble fiber is made up of polysaccharides (carbohydrates that contain three or more molecules of simple carbohydrates). Soluble fiber dissolves in water. It has a beneficial effect on body chemistry, such as lowering blood cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
  2. Insoluble fiber - Insoluble fiber is mainly made up of plant cell walls, and it cannot be dissolved in water. Insoluble fiber has a good laxative effect.
what-is-fiber-and-why-is-fiber-important

Here are the top 12 reasons why fiber is important in our diet:

  1. Fiber is good for our digestive system - Fiber influences the digestion process from start to finish.
  2. Fiber helps prevent obesity - Fiber slows down the eating process and helps contribute to a feeling of being full, which in turn can help prevent obesity from overeating.
  3. Fiber helps you lose weight - Fiber adds bulk to your diet, making you feel full faster, which may help reduce appetite and may help in weight management.
  4. Fiber helps prevent and/or manage diabetes - Fiber slows digestion and absorption so that glucose (sugar) in food enters the bloodstream more slowly, which keeps blood sugar on a more even level.
  5. Fiber may help prevent colon cancer - Fiber breaks down in the colon (the main part of the large intestine) by bacteria (a process called fermentation), and the simple organic acids produced by this breakdown helps to nourish the lining of the colon.
  6. Fiber helps your metabolism - These acids (as described in #5) also provide fuel for the rest of the body, especially the liver, and may have an important role in metabolism.
  7. Fiber lowers your cholesterol - Fiber lowers total and LDL ("bad" cholesterol) cholesterol.
  8. Fiber helps prevent heart disease - Because fiber lowers cholesterol, it reduces the risk of heart disease.
  9. Fiber helps prevent metabolic syndrome - Fiber regulates blood sugar, which may reduce onset risk or symptoms of metabolic syndrome and diabetes.
  10. Fiber (insoluble) prevents and cures constipation - Fiber speeds the passage of foods through the digestive system which facilitates regularity. In addition, fiber adds bulk to the stool which alleviates constipation.
  11. Fiber (insoluble) prevents hemorrhoids.
  12. Fiber (soluble) may help firm stool and reduce diarrhea.


A word of caution:

Consuming too much fiber at once may cause gas, bloating and cramping.

To avoid these issues:

  • increase your fiber intake gradually over several weeks - This will allow your digestive system to adjust.
  • Drink plenty of water - It's important to drink plenty of water when you eat high-fiber foods. Fiber functions at its best when it absorbs water.


what-is-fiber-and-why-is-fiber-important

How much fiber do we need?

The National Cancer Institute and American Diabetes Association recommend daily consumption of high fiber foods, as follows:

>>>>>>>>>>> Dietary fiber intake of 20 - 35 g per day. <<<<<<<<<<<<<<


Here are examples of fiber content in some common foods:

What is Fiber and Why is Fiber Important in our Diet, by Rosie2010 - Answer:  #2 Bran (100%) cereal

What is Fiber and Why is Fiber Important in our Diet, by Rosie2010 - Answer: #2 Bran (100%) cereal

Fiber In Breads, Cereals, and Pasta

 Serving Size Total Fiber (g)Soluble Fiber (g) Insoluble Fiber (g)

Cornflakes

1 cup

0.5

0.0

0.5

White bread

1 slice

0.53

0.03

0.5

Rye bread

1 slice

2.7

0.8

1.9

Whole wheat bread

1 slice

1.9

1.6

0.3

Whole grain bread

1 slice

2.9

0.08

2.8

French bread

1 slice

1.0

0.4

0.6

Dinner roll

1 roll

0.8

0.03

0.8

White rice

1/2 cup cooked

0. 5

0.5

0.0

Brown rice

1/2 cup cooked

1.3

1.3

0.0

Egg noodles

1 cup cooked

1.6

0.6

1.0

Pasta

1 cup cooked

1.6

0.04

1.6

Wholegrain pasta

1 cup cooked

6.3

4.1

2.2

Bran (100%) cereal

1/2 cup

10.0

0.3

9.7

Oatmeal, cooked

1 cup

4.0

2.4

1.6

Oat bran, cooked

3/4 cup

4.0

2.2

1.8

Psyllium husk

10g

8.0

7.1

0.9

Corn grits

1/2 cup cooked

1.9

0.61

0.3

Graham crackers

2

1.4

0.04

1.4

Rye wafers

3

2.3

0.06

2.2

Popcorn

3 cups

2.8

0.8

2.0

What is Fiber and Why is Fiber Important in our Diet, by Rosie2010 - Answer:  #3 Apple with skin

What is Fiber and Why is Fiber Important in our Diet, by Rosie2010 - Answer: #3 Apple with skin

Fiber In Fruits

 Serving Size Total Fiber (g)Soluble Fiber (g)Insoluble Fiber (g)

Apple, with skin

1 medium

5.7

4.2

1.5

Apricots

2 medium

1.3

0.9

0.4

Banana

1 medium

2.8

2.1

0.7

Blackberries

1/2 cup

3.8

0.7

3.1

Blueberries

1 cup

4.2

1.7

2.5

Cherries

10 6

0.9

0.3

0.6

Grapefruit

1/2 fruit

3.1

2.4

0.7

Kiwi fruit

1 large

3.2

2.4

0.8

Orange

1 medium

3.4

2.1

1.3

Peach

1 medium

1.0

0.5

0.5

Pear

1 medium

4.0

0.8

3.2

Pineapple

1/2 cup

1.2

0.2

1.0

Plums

2 medium

2.3

1.3

1.0

Raspberries

1/2 cup

3.2

0.9

2.3

Strawberries

3/4 cup

2.4

0.9

1.5

Tangerine

1 medium

1.8

1.4

0.4

What is Fiber and Why is Fiber Important in our Diet, by Rosie2010 - Answer:  #3 Artichoke

What is Fiber and Why is Fiber Important in our Diet, by Rosie2010 - Answer: #3 Artichoke

Fiber In Vegetables

 Serving SizeTotal Fiber (g)Soluble Fiber (g)Insoluble Fiber (g)

Artichoke

1 medium cooked

6.5

4.7

1.8

Asparagus

1/2 cup cooked

2.8

1.7

1.1

Broccoli

1/2 cup raw

2.7

1.3

1.4

Carrots

1 medium

2.6

1.1

1.5

Corn

1/2 cup

2.8

0.4

1.4

Green Beans

1/2 cup cooked

2.0

0.8

1.2

Kale

1 cup cooked

7.2

2.1

5.1

Lettuce

1 cup raw

0.5

0.2

0.3

Okra

1/2 cup cooked

4.0

3.1

1.0

Parsnips

1/2 cup cooked

4.4

0.4

4.0

Peas

1/2 cup cooked

5.2

2.0

3.2

Potatoes

1 medium

4.8

2.4

2.4

Sweet potato, peeled

1 medium

4.9

2.7

2.2

Squash, summer

1/2 cup cooked

2.3

1.1

1.2

Tomato

1 small

0.8

0.1

0.7

Zucchini

1/2 cup cooked

2.5

1.1

1.4

What is Fiber and Why is Fiber Important in our Diet, by Rosie2010 - Answer: #2 Flaxseeds

What is Fiber and Why is Fiber Important in our Diet, by Rosie2010 - Answer: #2 Flaxseeds

Fiber in Nuts and Seeds

 Serving SizeTotal Fiber (g)Soluble Fiber (g)Insoluble Fiber (g)

Almonds, raw

1 ounce

4.2

0.7

3.5

Flaxseeds

2 tbsp.

4.8

2.7

2.1

Psyllium seed husks

2 tbsp.

8.0

7.1

0.9

Sesame seeds

1/4 cup

3.3

0.7

2.6

Sunflower seeds

1/4 cup

3.0

1.1

1.9

Walnuts

1 ounce

3.1

0.6

2.5

What is Fiber and Why is Fiber Important in our Diet, by Rosie2010 - Answer: #2 Pinto beans

What is Fiber and Why is Fiber Important in our Diet, by Rosie2010 - Answer: #2 Pinto beans

Fiber In Legumes and Lentils

 Serving SizeTotal Fiber (g)Soluble Fiber (g)Insoluble Fiber (g)

Black beans

1/2 cup cooked

6.9

3.8

3.1

Kidney beans

1/2 cup cooked

4.5

0.5

4.0

Lentils

2/3 cup cooked

4.5

0.6

3.9

Lima beans

1/2 cup cooked

4.3

2.1

2.2

Peanuts, dry roasted

1 ounce

2.3

1.1

1.2

Pinto beans

1/2 cup cooked

7.4

5.5

1.9

White beans

1/2 cup cooked

4.2

0.4

3.8


More Health Related Articles by Rosie2010:


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Comments

Rosie Rose (author) from Toronto, Canada on June 13, 2012:

@Rusticliving - thanks so much for dropping by. I'm so glad you enjoyed reading my hub on fiber. Thanks for linking my hub to your Eating Healthy hub recipe series. I'm honored. Thanks for the votes. Cheers!

@Milli - I'm glad you enjoyed reading my hub on fiber and found it informative. lol Sometimes I get carried away. Thanks for votes. Cheers!

Have a nice day,

Rosie

Urmila from Rancho Cucamonga,CA, USA on June 10, 2012:

What an amazing hub. So much information you have provided with great pictures. Enjoyed reading it. Voted up and shared!

Liz Rayen from California on March 25, 2012:

Hi Rosie,

I love this hub. It is a wealth of information regarding our fiber intake! Your charts, graphics, everything is well covered and easy to read and understand. I'm linking your hub to my Eating Healthy ~ Feeling Great recipe series. I believe everyone should have this knowledge of fiber first hand! Voted up! Lisa

Rosie Rose (author) from Toronto, Canada on February 28, 2011:

>>>>>Hiya primeheal, thanks for dropping by. I'm glad you found my hub on fiber informative. Fiber should be an important part of our daily diet.

>>>>>Hiya crystolite, thanks for dropping by. I'm glad you enjoyed reading my fiber hub. Fiber is important in our diet.

>>>>>Hiya Qudsia, thanks for dropping by. I'm glad you found my fiber hub informative. Fiber is important in our daily diet.

>>>>>Hiya Quildon, thanks for dropping by. I'm glad you enjoyed reading my hub on the importance of fiber in our diet, and found it informative. Thanks for the bookmark.

>>>>>Hiya Schoolmarm, thanks for dropping by. I'm glad you enjoyed my hub on fiber, and found it helpful. Fiber is important in our diet. Please do. You're welcome.. my pleasure.

Have a nice day everyone,

Rosie

schoolmarm from Florida on February 28, 2011:

This is an excellent hub. All of this information in one place is very helpful and I plan to return. Thank you for the tips.

Angela Joseph from Florida on February 28, 2011:

Very informative hub, Rosie. I have bookmarked it so I can come back to it again and again.

QudsiaP1 on February 28, 2011:

Very informative.

Emma from Houston TX on February 28, 2011:

Nice hubs.fiber is an essential part of food that needs 2 be present in our daily food.its usefulness cannot be over emphaised.keep it up

primeheal from Hyderabad, India on February 28, 2011:

Hi,I have gone through the entire content of your hub.These days everybody should have the awareness of their health condition and what are the essential thing to consume to maintain a balanced health condition.Your hub revealed complete information about fiber.Thanks for giving valuable information.

Rosie Rose (author) from Toronto, Canada on February 27, 2011:

Hiya RandomLife, thanks for dropping by. I'm so glad you enjoyed reading my all about fiber and found it informative. Thanks so much.

Have a nice day,

Rosie

RandomLife from Nashville TN on February 26, 2011:

This was great and very informative! I look forward to reading more from you in the future!

Rosie Rose (author) from Toronto, Canada on February 26, 2011:

Hiya Lori, thanks for dropping by. I'm so glad you enjoyed reading my fiber hub and cleared up some things about fiber. Thanks so much - I love doing research.

Have a great day,

Rosie

Lori J Latimer from Central Oregon on February 26, 2011:

This is an awesome Hub on Fiber. I thought I knew a lot about fiber already, but this really cleared up some things I didn't really know. Thank you. This was a lot of hard work. Thanks for sharing.

Rosie Rose (author) from Toronto, Canada on February 26, 2011:

Hiya Carrie, thanks for dropping by. I'm glad you enjoyed reading my fiber hub and found it informative. Thanks so much.

Have a nice day,

Rosie

Rosie Rose (author) from Toronto, Canada on February 26, 2011:

Hiya Bob, Holy mackerel! I didn't know that about John Wayne. Yes I've read that in the good ole days, fiber had been known to be ruffage. Now I fully understand that saying "An apple a day keeps the doctor away." Apple is rich in fiber. I'm glad you are taking good care of yourself. Me? I eat lots of fruits and veggies plus my oatmeal in the morning. I'm one of those people that being "regular" (daily!) is very important. Cheers!

Have a nice day,

Rosie

carrie450 from Winnipeg, Canada on February 26, 2011:

Thank you Rosie for this valuable information about Fiber Great hub.

Rosie Rose (author) from Toronto, Canada on February 26, 2011:

Hiya rieom, thanks for dropping by. I'm glad you enjoyed reading my fiber hub. Thanks so much.. my pleasure.

Have a nice day,

Rosie

Rosie Rose (author) from Toronto, Canada on February 26, 2011:

Hiya jannthomassen, thanks for dropping by. I'm so glad you enjoyed reading all about fiber.

Have a nice day,

Rosie

Robert Francis Steffke from Springfield, MO on February 26, 2011:

Rosie, Wonderful article, covered the subject from A to Z. I really enjoyed it, since I am in the Organic Nutritional business. I remember when I was in Grammer School, Fiber, was then referred to as "Ruffage." Remember the saying, "An Apple a day keeps the Doctor away?" My belief is that you are much better off, if you can stay away from Doctors as much as possible! I have a great article titled, "Death Begins in the Colon." There was a report, that when John Wayne died, his Colon weighed around 45 pounds. Un-digested food waste can "cake" on the colon walls and the ensueing fermentation creates toxins which have a dire effect on health! Along with fibre rich foods, I drink a supplemental fiber, pure psillium seeds and Husks in pure water every morning and once every three months for two weeks add a tablespoon of activated charcoal to remove any toxins from my colon. Purchased a book many years ago, written by Dr. Sanford Siegal, D.O. M.D. touting the benefits of a High Fibre diet, contains recipes which add raw wheat bran to the food!

rieom on February 26, 2011:

This article was amazing and you covered everything about this topic. Great job!

jannthomassen from Norway on February 26, 2011:

Impressive, thanks for sharing

Rosie Rose (author) from Toronto, Canada on February 25, 2011:

Hiya speedbird, thanks for dropping by. I'm glad you enjoyed reading my hub about the goodness of fiber in our diet. I love doing research and putting it together with pictures is enjoyable for me. I'm glad you liked it.

Have a nice day,

Rosie

speedbird from Nairobi, Kenya on February 25, 2011:

What a great hub, I really like the way you have used graphs and graphics. I looks very analytical and detailed. Keep up the good work you are doing.

Rosie Rose (author) from Toronto, Canada on February 25, 2011:

Hiya Melpor, thanks so much for voting up and the awesome and useful are so sweet. I'm glad you enjoyed reading all about fiber. Cheers!

Have a nice day,

Rosie

Melvin Porter from New Jersey, USA on February 25, 2011:

Very good and well researched hub. I enjoyed reading it. Voted up, awesome and useful.

Rosie Rose (author) from Toronto, Canada on February 25, 2011:

Hiya my dear friend Rhonda, I'm glad you enjoyed reading about fiber.. fiber is really important in our diet. Thanks for the vote up.

Have a nice day,

Rosie

Rhonda Musch from The Emerald Coast on February 25, 2011:

Hi girl this was an awesome hub that you have written. I truly enjoyed it. Fiber is very important in our diet.

Voted up.

Sweet wishes Rhonda