Fiber is mostly polysaccharides composed of glucose units, but human digestive enzymes cannot break the bonding of these units. We can think of fiber as non-starch polysaccharides. These include cellulose, hemicellulose, pectin, and some other types of fiber. That might sound like Greek to you, but fiber is an important part of our daily diet, and a high fiber diet might be perfect for your body.
Depending on their solubility in water, there are of two main types of fiber: soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. Both of these types are important for optimum health. Fiber has a number of health benefits and hence is highly recommended in daily food. Some of its health benefits are:
- It promotes the feelings of fullness and reduces energy consumption.
- It prevents constipation, hemorrhoids, and other intestinal problems.
- Fiber helps prevent bacterial infection of the appendix.
- It reduces the risk of colon cancer.
- It stimulates the muscles of the digestive tract and helps them retain their health and tone.
To keep the digestive tract healthy and prevent other disorders like hemorrhoids and intestinal problems, people normally need 20 to 35 grams of fiber daily. These can be obtained from a variety of plants, vegetables and fruits. Fibers are especially abundant in whole foods. All fruits are rich in fiber. For just 2 grams of fiber, you could eat 1 small apple, 1 peach, 1 small banana, 2 prunes, 16 large cherries, or a number of other fruits. Grains also contain fiber. For 2 grams of fiber, simply try 1 slice of whole wheat bread, 2 slices of cracked wheat bread, 1 cup of cooked oatmeal, 2 cups of popped popcorn, or ¼ of a cup of corn bran.
If you are on a low-carb diet, you can try eating cooked vegetables to provide your body with adequate fiber. For 2 grams of fiber, eat ½ of a cup of broccoli, 1 cup of celery, ½ of a cup of carrots, 1 small potato, 1 large tomato, or a variety of beans. Beans, or any type of legume, are the real powerhouses for fiber. By only eating ½ of a cup of kidney beans, 1 cup of dried peas or lentils, or ½ of a cup of canned baked beans, you can provide your body with a whopping 8 grams of fiber. If all else fails, small amounts of fiber can also be found in peanuts, walnuts, and pickles, so there is really no excuse for not getting enough fiber in your diet!