The following article covers the role of fiber in our diet and how it contributes to health. The rise in inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis) has triggered a new interest in the role of fiber that is sadly deficient in the Standard American Diet (SAD). Could a lack of fiber be implicated?
The dictionary defines it as:
Dietary fiber(British spelling fibre) or roughage is the portion of plant-derived food that cannot be completely broken down by human digestive enzymes. It has two main components:
- Soluble fiber – which dissolves in water – is readily fermented in the colon into gases and physiologically active by-products, such as short-chain fatty acids produced in the colon by gut bacteria; it is viscous, may be called prebiotic fiber, and delays gastric emptying which, in humans, can result in an extended feeling of fullness.
- Insoluble fiber – which does not dissolve in water – is inert to digestive enzymes in the upper gastrointestinal tract and provides bulking. Some forms of insoluble fiber, such as resistant starches, can be fermented in the colon. Bulking fibers absorb water as they move through the digestive system, easing defecation.