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The Important of Fiber September 26, 2009

Posted by belanjasehat in Uncategorized.

What is Fiber?:

Fiber is that part of plant food that is indigestible by humans. It passes through our digestive systems without being broken down and absorbed into our bloodstreams as other food components are. Think of a cow eating grass – that cow needs extra stomachs, chews its cud, etc, to digest the grass. We can’t digest grass because we don’t have specialized digestive systems. That indigestible stuff is fiber.

Why is Dietary Fiber so Important?

Fiber contributes to good overall health in many ways. Fiber improves the body’s handling of glucose and the hormone insulin, perhaps by slowing the digestion or absorption of carbohydrate. Also, lacking fiber in the diet along with consuming an abundance of highly refined carbohydrate foods such as white breads and simple sugars is likely to increase the risk of developing diabetes. Secondly, eating adequate amounts of fiber may reduce the risk of colon cancer since the insoluble fibers of whole grains, fruits and vegetables may bind or dilute cancer-causing materials and speed their transit through the colon. In addition, ingesting fiber can also help with weight control and maintenance. Fiber helps fill you up without adding many calories.

Therefore, calorie-dense concentrated fats and sweets can be replaced with more fibrous alternatives. For example, a good snack alternative for a honey-glazed donut would be a blueberry bran muffin at your local coffee shop. Eating your veggies can also possibly reduce the risk of atherosclerosis, a build up of plaque on the arteries causing vessel narrowing and heart disease by several mechanisms. Soluble fibers may lower blood cholesterol by delaying absorption in the digestive tract. High cholesterol is a major contributing factor to these conditions, thus decreasing the blood cholesterol level will lessen the susceptibility to both of these diseases. Some soluble fibers are digested by intestinal bacteria to yield small, fat-like products that, when absorbed, may lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol or the “bad” cholesterol. Also, fiber can also decrease the overall fat and cholesterol intake by replacing these types of foods in our diets (recall the donut example above). Fiber also promotes feelings of fullness because of its ability to absorb water and swell. Soluble fibers in a meal also slow the movement of food through the upper digestive tract allowing you to feel fuller longer. Other health-related benefits of fiber include helping to prevent constipation, hemorrhoids, and other intestinal problems as well as helping to prevent appendicitis by keeping the contents of the intestine moist and easy to eliminate. Finally, fiber pushes against the walls of the digestive tract causing them to stimulate the muscle surrounding the tract to help keep this smooth muscle toned and healthy. This prevents diverticulosis, a condition in which the intestinal walls become weak and bulge which leaves them susceptible to infection and painful inflammation requiring hospitalization, antibiotic therapy, or surgery.

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