Fiber is found in the foods we eat and plays an essential role in bodily functions. Also known as dietary fiber, it is found primarily in grains and legumes, fruits and vegetables.
Fiber is the portion of plant-based foods that your body cannot absorb or digest. Because of this, it moves or passes through the body and is eliminated. This is important because having enough fiber in your diet has many benefits.
Dietary fiber is comprised of two components – soluble and insoluble fiber.
Soluble fiber attracts water (think of a sponge) and forms a gel-like substance which helps to slow digestion (i.e., makes you feel full faster). It helps control weight, lowers blood glucose levels, and may help lower unhealthy low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels.
Insoluble fiber helps promote the movement of food substances through the digestive system, thus helping with elimination and alleviating symptoms of constipation or irregular stools to keep you “regular”. Because they are not soluble, these dietary fibers speed up the passage of food wastes through the intestinal system and helps aid in weight loss.
The USDA recommends 28 grams of fiber per day. To be certain you are eating enough fiber eat a wide variety of fiber-rich foods (e.g., broccoli, carrots, oranges, strawberries, raisins, lentils, oatmeal, brown rice, nuts, etc.). Refer to this handy resource for a list of high-fiber foods by food category: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/high-fiber-foods/NU00582