All About Fiber
Importantly, there is also a physiological basis for the definition of fiber where fiber is thought to promote beneficial effects including laxation, blood cholesterol tempering, and/or blood glucose attenuation. There are several different types of dietary fiber – many come from plant sources, some from animal sources, and some dietary fibers are manufactured. There are three primary mechanisms by which dietary fibers contribute benefits – bulking, viscosity and fermentation.
Historically, fibers have been described as insoluble and soluble. Recent research has shown that a fiber’s solubility does not define or describe its health effects. For instance, some soluble fibers provide bulking, which has historically been associated with insoluble fiber. In addition, some insoluble fibers (i.e., resistant starch), are fermented in the large intestine, which had previously been associated with soluble fibers. It is expected that the use of the descriptors soluble and insoluble will be discouraged in the future.
There are many reasons that fiber provides health benefits. Some fibers provide bulking, which assists in regularity. Other fibers help lower blood cholesterol and blood glucose levels. Some fibers are fermented within the large intestine, which has a range of health effects. All types of fiber are needed every day for the body to function well.
Most adult women should aim for at least 25 grams of fiber a day while men should target at least 38 grams. Unfortunately, according to the American Heart Association, most Americans get only half of what they need.
Because most people fall short on getting the fiber they need, the food industry has begun fortifying popular foods with dietary fiber. These fibers can be put into many different foods and beverages because they can withstand the processing challenges of food manufacturing. It is important to eat a wide range of dietary fibers from different sources to obtain all of the benefits of different types of dietary fibers. With all of the fiber products available now, it is easier than ever to meet daily fiber needs.