Dietary fiber is the indigestible part of plant foods that moves food and liquids through our body. It is commonly referred to as “roughage” and aides our body to dispose of waste through the aid of our digestive system. Without it, we commonly feel bloated, full or constipated and are unable to dispose of bodily waste efficiently.
Fiber is not digested by gastrointestinal enzymes and, thus, can soak up liquids and move “bolus” pods of food through your intestinal tract and out via bowel movements. Bolus refers to a conglomerate of food waste stuck together in your intestinal tract.
There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble fiber. Though fiber is technically classified as a carbohydrate, it does not function or break down like a traditional carb. Both types of fiber have tremendous health benefits:
Soluble fiber is able to dissolve in water. It changes form while moving through the digestive tract and ferments as different gut bacteria is absorbed. As more water is absorbed, the soluble fiber becomes gelatinous.
Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water and does not change its shape or form as it moves through the digestive tract.
Most foods high in fiber tend to have several other nutrients that contribute to good health as well. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends that women consume 25 grams of fiber per day and men consume 38 grams per day. Once past the age of 50, recommendations decrease to 21 and 30 grams, respectively. Be sure your normal diet contains the appropriate level of fiber.