For the human organism, dietary fibers are indigestible food components, which occur predominantly in plant foods (e.g. cellulose, a form of carbohydrate).
The two fiber types
Water-soluble dietary fibers
Also known as the swelling agent, e.g.: Locust bean gum, guar, and pectin.
Water-insoluble dietary fibers
Also called filler, for example, Cellulose, hemicellulose or lignin.
Ballast substances are found in the following foods:
- Dried pulses
- Milk (in small quantities)
Fiber swells up in the stomach and increases the feeling of satiety by increasing its volume. The carbohydrates from fiber-rich food are absorbed more slowly in the intestine. This results in a slower, more even, a longer-lasting supply of glucose to the blood after eating. This supports the stability of the blood sugar level. For this reason, a diet rich in fiber is recommended especially for diabetics.
Effect of dietary fibers
Are dietary fibers really as healthy as they are said to be?
Dietary fibers cannot be broken down by the enzymes in the small intestine and are therefore not directly absorbed by the metabolism. However, in the large intestine, a part can be converted by microorganisms into short-chain fatty acids. The rest of the fiber cannot be absorbed by the body, but it works in a different way:
- Water binding capacity (up to 100 times its own weight)
- increase in the amount of stool – pressure on the intestinal walls – stimulation of digestion (peristalsis)
- Binding of microorganisms, toxins, cholesterol, bile salts
- binding of mineral substances -> provide balance, e.g. by drinking sufficient mineral water and isotonic beverages
- Stimulation of hormones
An adequate supply of fluids is essential, otherwise, the digestive mash in the intestine can harden due to water deficiency. This promotes constipation instead of counteracting it. Dietary fiber can cause flatulence during the conversion from a high-sugar diet. After a period of adjustment, flatulence usually reoccurs.
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