What is fiber?

Fiber is a complex carbohydrate found in plants.

It is the portion of plants that cannot be digested by the human digestive tract. Our enzymes cannot break fiber into units that are small enough for absorption.

Since the body cannot absorb it, fiber is not used for energy but is excreted.

Not so long ago, fiber was considered unimportant in the diet due to the fact that it did not provide energy to the body.

It is now obvious that fiber is heathly and that people who eat a lot of fiber have better-functioning intestinal systems than those who eat little.

It has different effects on the body and the main one is its power to detoxify the content of the colon by maintaining the bacterian proliferation and by developping the intestinal ecosystem.
The fatty-acids that result from its fermentation have an healthy impact on the intestine walls.
One of the fatty-acid, butyric acid, seems to be able to inhibit the division of cancerous cells.

Studies have shown than vegetarian people, who eat a lot of fiber, have less risk of developping a disease of the colon, including colon and rectal cancer.

Fiber can be divided into two categories according to its physical characteristics and effects on the body:

  1. Water soluble
  2. Water insoluble
Both kinds are needed.
Each form functions differently and provides different health benefits.

Realized by Laurence LIVERNAIS-SAETTEL, dietetian
© Copyright L. Livernais-Saettel 2000
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