Fiber Foods are vegetal polysaccharides that human organism cannot digest and absorb them.
Although it has no nutritional significance, fibers foods are extremely important for human health.
These substances, in fact, are partially or completely fermented by the bacterial flora of the colon.
It is common to distinguish between two types of fiber foods, water-soluble and water-insoluble.
Insoluble fiber foods
Insoluble fibers (cellulose, hemicellulose, lignin), can incorporate a considerable amount of water.
Thanks to this precious characteristic, they perform several important functions:
- They increase the volume and weight of the faeces and speed up intestinal motility by shortening the transit time of the faecal material.
- Thanks to this peculiarity, insoluble fibers correct constipation, prevent diverticulosis and reduce the risk of colon cancer.
Soluble fiber foods
The soluble fibers (pectins, gums, mucilage) form a gelatinous mass with water soluble in water:
- has satiating power, as it relaxes the gastric walls, stimulating the mechanic receptors that transmit the sense of satiety to the brain;
- Reduces the intestinal absorption of the products of digestion, partly subtracting them from the body.
For this reason foods rich in fibers are indicated in slimming diets and in diet therapy for diabetes (they reduce the absorption of sugars) and hyperlipidemia (they reduce the absorption of fats and cholesterol).
Water-soluble fibers are therefore useful in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases and gallbladder stones.
How much fiber foods?
We recommend a daily consumption of 20-35 g of fiber, with an insoluble/soluble ratio of 3:1.
It is advisable not to exceed these values, so as not to excessively hinder the absorption of micronutrients valuable for the well-being of the body (iron, calcium and zinc).
It also recommends it to favour the fibers in food: it is therefore advisable to get your daily ration directly from food. In this way you can enjoy the synergistic effect of the various micronutrients present in the food.
The economic issue should also not be underestimated, as fiber supplements have a non-negligible cost.
If you increase the fiber content of your diet, do so gradually, in order to avoid the onset of gastrointestinal problems (meteorism, diarrhoea, flatulence, etc.).
Fibers must be taken together with a lot of water, since, as we have seen, it links all their interesting characteristics to their ability to absorb and keep liquids; if these are scarce, the beneficial effects sought are considerably reduced and, sometimes, there is a risk of obtaining the opposite effect to that hoped for.
Avoid taking fibers together with drugs, as they can interfere with the intestinal absorption of the various active principles.
Finally, it is very important to relate the fiber content to the calories of the food, thus avoiding introducing an excess of calories.
In fact, to take in a lot of fiber, more calories can be introduced than necessary.
For this reason the following parameter has been introduced:
Fiber index (IF) = (FIB/CAL) x 100
Therefore, 20 g of fiber is necessary to take 20 g of fiber:
555 g of chicory (only 55 Kcal).
68 g of All Bran (187 Kcal)
In conclusion, those who want to lose weight must derive the fiber mainly from vegetables, rather than resorting to immoderate consumption of corn flakes.
Benefits of Regular Fiber Foods Consumption
What are the benefits by Regular Fiber Foods Consumption?
- Dragging during the intestinal transit of food, with a reduction of unwanted fermentation.
- Slowing down gastric transit time, with a reduction in the rate of absorption of sugars taken together with fiber (reduced glycemic index).
- Increase in faecal mass, which facilitates the elimination functions (cellulose).
- Increase in the satiety index of food.
- Reduction of cholesterol levels (in particular for pectin and soluble fiber).
- Reduction of carcinogens and mutagens (and heavy metals) within the intestinal tract.
- Enrichment of the intestinal flora with useful microorganisms.
- ?Strengthening of the wall of the entire digestive tract, with prevention of diverticulosis (degeneration of the intestinal wall).
- Prevention of colon cancer and gastric ulcer.
- ?Reduction of the assimilation of ingested calories (for the same intake) due to “trapping” of the calories in the fibrous structures.
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