Dietary fibers: What is it? Where to find?
Fiber-rich foods are important for our health and are mostly plant-based. Dietary fiber is divided into two groups: soluble fiber and insoluble fiber.
Where to find dietary fiber and how to use it properly? In this article, here is everything you need to know about dietary fiber.
Dietary fiber, what is it?
Dietary fiber is part of the carbohydrate family. These are more or less long chain polysaccharides that humans cannot digest.
Dietary fiber is found in foods of plant origin and there are two types:
- soluble fibers;
- insoluble fibers.
In general, dietary fiber has many health benefits.
Characteristics of dietary fibers
- fibers belong to the family of carbohydrates, they are polysaccharides;
- fiber is classified into soluble fiber and insoluble fiber;
- fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains are rich in them;
- fibers regulate transit and reduce the glycemic load after a meal;
- they have a positive effect on satiety.
Why adopt a diet rich in dietary fiber?
Decrease glycemic load
Fiber slows down the rate of absorption of certain nutrients, including carbohydrates. They have the effect of reducing the glycemic load of the meal, and therefore of not raising blood sugar levels too quickly.
In the long term, a diet rich in fiber is an excellent way to avoid hyperglycemia and the onset of type 2 diabetes.
Protect against certain digestive cancers
In the digestive tract, the fibers swell and trap certain molecules from food to facilitate their evacuation through the stool. The same goes for any more toxic intruders (nitrates, pesticides, etc.).
Dietary fibers would have a protective role on digestive cancers, and on colorectal cancer in particular.
Fight against constipation
Fiber, whether soluble or insoluble, has a positive effect on intestinal transit. By swelling with water, they increase the weight and volume of the food bolus and facilitate its evacuation.
Consuming enough dietary fiber helps fight constipation and regulate transit.
By swelling in the digestive tract, the fibers considerably increase the volume of the gastric bolus and slow down the speed of digestion. As a result, they have a satiating effect that allows you to eat less and not be hungry until the next meal.
Fiber traps lipid molecules, including cholesterol. Part of the cholesterol is therefore eliminated through the stool and the body uses the endogenous cholesterol to make new bile salts and ensure good digestion.
Gradually, dietary fiber participates in the regulation of cholesterol and has a cholesterol-lowering effect.
Where to find dietary fiber?
Dietary fiber is found in varying proportions in foods of plant origin such as fruits and vegetables, cereals and oilseeds.
Whole grains are about twice as rich in fiber as conventional cereals, so it is recommended to prefer whole grain breads and starches for a good fiber intake.
20 Foods High in Dietary Fiber
|Cooked legumes||250 ml (1 cup)||12-17|
|Breakfast cereals, 100% wheat bran||30g||10|
|Fresh soy beans (edamame)||250 ml (1 cup)||8|
|Raspberries||125 ml (1/2 cup)||4-6|
|Artichoke||1 medium (120g)||5|
|Dried prunes, cooked||80g||5|
|Pear with peel||1 medium||5|
|Green peas, cooked||125 ml (1/2 cup)||4-5|
|blackberries||125 ml (1/2 cup)||4|
|Pumpkin||125 ml (1/2 cup)||4|
|Dates or dried figs||60 ml (1/4 cup)||4|
|Potato with skin, baked||1 medium (150g)||4|
|Boiled spinach||125 ml (1/2 cup)||4|
|Almonds roasted in oil or dry||60 ml (1/4 cup)||4|
|Boiled sweet potato||1 medium (150g)||4|
|Apple with peel||1 medium (150g)||3|
|Winter squash, cooked||125 ml (1/2 cup)||3|
|Papaya||½ fruit (150g)||3|
|Brussels sprouts, cooked||4 cabbages (85g)||3|
|Berries||125 ml (1/2 cup)||2-3|
How to properly use dietary fiber?
Daily dietary fiber requirements
|Recommended Dietary Intake (ANC)|
|Babies 0-6 months||n/a|
|Babies 7-12 months||n/a|
|Babies 1-3 years old||Age + 5g|
|Children 4-8 years old||Age + 5g|
|Boys 9-13 years old||Age + 5g|
|Girls 9-13 years old||Age + 5g|
|Boys 14-18 years old||25 – 30g|
|Girls 14-18 years old||25 – 30g|
|Men 19-50 years old||25 – 30g|
|Women 19-50 years old||25 – 30g|
|Men 50 and over||30g|
|Women 50 and over||30g|
|Pregnant women||30 – 40g|
|Nursing women||25 – 30g|
Supplements rich in dietary fiber to lose weight or regulate transit
In specialized stores, it is now common to find fiber-based food supplements intended for weight loss or to fight against constipation.
Food supplements rich in dietary fiber can be found in the form of:
- fruit jellies ;
It is recommended to seek the advice of a doctor before taking fiber-based food supplements. Taken in too high a dose, food supplements can cause significant digestive disorders.
Adverse effects of dietary fiber
Consequences of a low fiber diet
A diet lacking in dietary fiber is unsatisfying and can lead to constipation.
Even if no pathology is directly linked to a fiber deficiency, a diet low in fiber can promote the onset of certain diseases such as type 2 diabetes and promote hypercholesterolemia.
Consequences of a diet too rich in fiber
Dietary fiber is not toxic in high doses. However, consumed in excess, they cause unpleasant digestive symptoms such as diarrhea, flatulence, nausea, bloating, etc.
If you have particularly sensitive intestines, we recommend cooking fruits and vegetables and not increasing your fiber intake too quickly.
Interaction of dietary fiber with other nutrients
Dietary fiber slows down the rate of absorption of fats and carbohydrates. They are therefore ideal in case of diabetes or hypercholesterolemia.
In addition, the action of dietary fiber is optimized if combined with sufficient hydration. It is therefore necessary to ensure that you drink at least 1.5 L of water per day and spread over the day.
Chemical Properties of Dietary Fiber
Dietary fibers are starchy polysaccharides that are not degraded by digestive enzymes. They have no energy value, but participate in the regulation of intestinal transit. These are residues originating from the cell wall or the cytoplasm of plants.
Dietary fiber is classified into two categories:
- Soluble dietary fibers that form a viscous gel in the presence of water. These are pectins, gums and mucilages;
- water-insoluble fibers which increase the volume of the gastric bolus and improve intestinal transit. These are the celluloses, lignins and hemicelluloses.
History of dietary fiber
In developed countries, we consume less and less dietary fiber. In question, our food which includes less and less plants and more and more industrial products of lower nutritional quality.
As a result, there is a steady increase in cases of obesity, diabetes and dyslipidemia. Dietary fiber could have a place of choice in the fight against the diseases of civilization.
At present and more than ever, scientists are interested in their beneficial roles on the human body.