Did you know that there are different types of fiber, and their effect on your health is different too?
Fiber is actually a general term for a number of different carbohydrates, which humans cannot normally digest, because of the lack of special enzymes in our bodies. This means that fiber passes through the digestive system without being digested and changed.
Fiber is found naturally in a wide variety of plants, such as: fruits, veggies, legumes, nuts, wholegrains, seeds and others, and it is recommended that the daily intake of an adult man is 38 grams, and for women 25 grams.
The two main types of fiber are: dietary and functional. The former is the fiber found naturally in the plants listed above, and the functional fiber is extracted from natural sources and added to processed foods.
Other methods for classifying fiber are by: soluble and non-soluble, as well as fermentable and non-fermentable.
The soluble fibers actually can blend with the water in the human gut, and can help lower blood sugar spikes, insoluble fiber doesn’t blend with the water, but rather passes through the digestive system acting more as a bulking agent, which helps normalize and speed up the passage of the food through the digestive system.
As for the fermentable fiber – it is the one which is gut-bacteria friendly, and will act as a fuel source for the good, healthy bacteria in the colon. This is crucial for the health, since when left starving, this healthy bacteria can start eating the protective mucus of the intestines, and can cause serious health problems. On the other hand, when the good gut bacteria have enough fuel, they will increase by number and their health benefits on the health will improve drastically. The best sources of fermentable fiber include legumes and beans.
Some people feel some extra flatulence when eating sources of fermentable fiber is that gas is a natural by-product resulting of the fermentation of fiber.
As for viscous fiber – it is the type of fiber which when blended with water form a thick gel. This gel stays in the gut for longer, which causes the slowing down of the digestion of the consumed nutrients, giving people a longer feeling of fullness, thus reducing appetite and aiding the process of weight loss. The best sources for viscous fiber are oat bran, nuts, apples, carrots, flax seeds, Brussel sprouts, legumes and others. Viscous fiber is the one which you need to be consuming when trying to lose weight and reduce your appetite.
Starches are the main carbohydrates, which are found in grains, potatoes and other basic foods. Resistant starches function like the soluble and fermentable fiber. They too remain unchanged as they pass through the digestive system and help reduce appetite, also balances insulin levels and lowers the levels of blood sugar too. The best sources for resistant starches are green bananas, raw oats, cashew nuts, legumes and others.
Starchy foods form large amounts of the healthy resistant starch when cooled down after cooking (including: rice and potatoes).
Apart from the main types of fibers, there are certain specific ones which are definitely worth noting because of their unique health benefits.
Fructans are fibers found in wheat, and are known to feed the friendly bacteria in the human gut, as well as to treat diarrhea, but also fructans can cause adverse effects on people with irritable bowel syndrome too.
Another group of fibers which are very beneficial for the health are the Beta-glucans. Found in oats and barley, the beta-glucans are soluble and viscous fibers which help normalize insulin and blood sugar levels.
In conclusion, we must say that soluble, fermentable and viscous fibers and resistant starches are essential for your health, so if you want to stay fit and healthy, you should make sure you ingest the recommended amounts of whole plants which contain them, on a daily basis.