8 Fiber Facts Explained: A Vital Nutrient For Good Digestion

Fibre is indeed a type of carbohydrate that is present in various plant-based foods and is not easily broken down by the human body during digestion. It is important to note that the food item in question tends to remain relatively intact as it travels through the digestive system. This characteristic is associated with a variety of health benefits. 

Firstly, fibre is essential for maintaining a healthy digestive system as it helps promote regular bowel movements and prevents the occurrence of constipation. Additionally, it is beneficial for regulating blood sugar levels as it aids in the gradual absorption of glucose. Moreover, it is important to note that fibre plays a significant role in weight management. This is because fibre adds volume to your diet, resulting in a sensation of satiety and decreased cravings. In addition, it is important to note that maintaining a healthy diet can be beneficial in managing cholesterol levels and reducing the likelihood of developing heart disease. Recently on her Instagram, cookbook author, Dr Nandita Iyer shares Fiber facts that we all should know.  

Fact 1: Soluble and insoluble fiber are the cleaners of the digestive system with other benefits. 

Think of soluble fiber like a sponge. It absorbs water in intestines, forms into our gel, slows your digestion and glucose spikes. It keeps you full for longer. If you are a diabetic or pre- diabetic, foods with soluble fiber are your friends. Get your soluble fiber from oats, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables such as citrus berries, apple, carrots and more). 

Fact 2: Insoluble fiber is present in all fibrous parts of veg, fruits and grains - the things that you may chew food for a long time. It does not dissolve in water. 

It speeds up the passage of food through the intestine. Think of it like a power broom, wanting to sweep through the intestines. Get your insoluble fibre from wheat bran, bhindi, spinach and all the plant-based foods with skins, leaves etc. Many foods have both soluble and insoluble fiber in them. 

Fact 3: Fibre is a type of carbohydrate the body cannot digest. Insoluble and soluble fiber are handled differently. 

Insoluble fibre leaves the body unchanged, adding bulk to stools and preventing constipation. Soluble fiber becomes a gel in the intestines and becomes food for the gut bacteria in the large intestine that break it down and ferment it. 

Fact 4: Fibre can be natural or manufactured (functional) 

Some of the naturally occurring fiber in plant-based foods are cellulose and hemicellulose, beta-glucans, guargum,lignins, pectins, and resistant starch. Some of the manufactured functional fibres are psyllium (isabgol) and insulin. 

Fact 5: All prebiotics are fiber but all fiber is not prebiotic.  

Prebiotics serve as food for beneficial bacteria in the gut. These bacteria play a crucial role in maintaining gut health and supporting the immune system. 

Fact 6: Fibre needs water 

High fiber foods must be accompanied by good hydration. Water and water-rich foods and beverages, all count towards hydration. Water helps fiber move smoothly through the digestive system and prevents discomfort or constipation.  

Fact 7: Only plant based foods have fibre. 

Meat, Eggs and dairy have no fibre. Which is why it is important to eat low- carb veggies like cauliflower,  zucchini, eggplant, etc when on a low or no carb, high-protein-high fat diet. 

Fact 8:  Gut bacteria ferment the undigested fibre and produce short-chain fatty acids (Butyrates) 

These are the facts that fuel the gut lining. Butyrates are anti-inflammatory, boost immune system, regulate blood sugar and lower cholesterol and cancer risk.