Dietary fiber, found in all plant-based foods, plays an essential role in human health. Most whole foods contain a combination of the two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble. Both types of fiber help maintain the health of your digestive system and promote regular bowel movements.

Soluble fiber pulls in water to form a gel in the digestive tract. This slows digestion, so your stomach and intestine do not absorb as much of some nutrients, like starch and sugar. As a result, cholesterol levels go down over time, which may help prevent heart disease and stroke. Consuming soluble fiber may also improve glucose tolerance in people with diabetes. This type of fiber is a common ingredient in many over-the-counter laxatives. Psyllium husk (which contains both soluble and insoluble fiber), pectin, and the soft parts of fruits, dried beans, and peas are examples of soluble fiber.

Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, can be found in the peels of fruit, such as apples, blueberries, and grapes. It acts as a natural laxative that speeds the passage of foods through the stomach. It also gives stool its bulk and helps it move quickly through the gastrointestinal tract.

Studies suggest that getting more fiber in your diet may play a role in the treatment of conditions such as gastrointestinal disease, constipation, hemorrhoids, high cholesterol, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and some forms of cancer. Most Americans do not get the recommended amount of fiber (25 to 35 g. per day) in their daily diet.


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