For years, fiber wasn’t a huge topic among people interested in a healthy diet: important to keep one’s bowels happy, sure, but not much more than that. Then it was discovered that some fibers formed a cholesterol-controlling gel within the intestines and the research community took another look.
Get on the Right Track
Now scientists realize that certain kinds of fibers play a key role in maintaining not only intestinal health but also the well-being of the immune system. Fiber supports healthy gut flora, which are the millions of microbes that live within the digestive tract and promote proper digestion (and less bloating, as we discussed in a recent blog).
What Foods Provide Fiber and What are the Benefits?
The chart below presents information on how each class of fiber supports well-being along with some good sources. Most sources provide more than one class; for example, apples are listed as a soluble source but also supply insoluble fiber as well.
Type of Fiber
Insoluble fiber does NOT dissolve in water, instead helping to retain water within the colon. By passing through the digestive tract mostly intact, insoluble fiber is able to speed passage of food and waste. This action improves gut transit time and eases constipation.
· Bell Peppers
· Rice Bran
· Wheat Bran
Soluble fiber dissolves in water, forming a gel within the intestines that delays stomach emptying. This action might help control weight gain by causing the body to feel full. It can also help control insulin activity, which supports healthy blood glucose levels, as well as lower LDL (“bad” cholesterol levels).
· Beans (dried)
· Brussel Sprouts
· Flax Seed
· Marshmallow Root
· Oat Bran
· Acacia Gum
· Slippery Elm
Prebiotic fibers support and stimulate the activity and growth of healthy probiotic bacteria within the intestines. Research has shown beneficial effects on mineral absorption, symptom reduction in inflammatory bowel disorders, intestinal disorders, intestinal regularity and other health measures.
· Chicory Root
· Prune Powder
As the main site of absorption within the body, it’s important to keep the intestinal tract healthy and safe from pathogens—the digestive system serves the “front lines” of the immune system. Fiber types in this category promote a healthy, well-regulated intestinal tract, which improves and strengthens immune response.
· Apple Pectin
· Citrus Pectin
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**These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.