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What is the Function of Fiber in the Body?

Apart from treating constipation, fiber helps our body in many ways. Knowing about the functions or uses of fiber will convince you to include it in your daily diet.
Madhura Pandit
Last Updated: Apr 9, 2018
In the fast food era, the daily diet of most of us comprises carbohydrates and fats. Fiber is largely ignored or forgotten. As it is a common knowledge that fiber is obtained from green vegetables, it is hated. However, you may not be aware but fiber is also found in many other interesting food sources. Secondly, if you take a detailed look at the functions of fiber, you will find that it is very essential and should be a part of our daily diet.
Dietary fiber, often known as roughage or bulk as it cannot be digested in our body, is obtained from plants. It is divided into two types: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fibers slow down digestion and are believed to lower cholesterol. On the other hand, insoluble fibers help in moving stools through intestines quickly. Including fiber in your daily diet has many health benefits.
Functions of Fiber in the Body
Fiber is primarily needed for proper digestion. However, apart from it, it also performs various other functions, weight loss being one of them. NutriNeat provides detailed information on the benefits of having a high-fiber diet.
Treats Constipation
Fiber is essential for proper bowel movement. It absorbs water and helps in softening stools. Secondly, it also helps in adding bulk to stools, thus, helping them move out of the body quickly. This consequently helps in the treatment of constipation. As one is aware, constipation is a condition that occurs due to the inability to pass stools regularly, or a condition where one passes very hard stools. Therefore, having fiber in the diet is considered as one of the best natural solutions for constipation.

Controls Blood Sugar Level
Fiber helps in controlling your blood sugar level. As compared to other food types, it takes a fairly longer time for fibers to get digested in the body. As fibers slow down the process of digestion, it takes a longer time for sugar or glucose to enter the bloodstream. This consequently helps in maintaining a proper level of sugar in the body. Therefore, people suffering from diabetes are also advised to follow a high fiber diet plan.

Prevents Diseases of the Intestines and Colon
As fiber promotes proper digestion, it helps in preventing several diseases and disorders related to digestion. Apart from constipation, it helps in preventing diverticulitis, hemorrhoids, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), etc., to a great extent. Secondly, when fiber is broken down in the colon, organic acids are formed which help in metabolism.

Aids in Weight loss
Fibers help in losing weight in many ways. Firstly, it is a natural appetite suppressant and quickly makes the stomach full. Therefore, you automatically cut down unwanted snacking. Secondly, it takes longer to chew fiber-containing food. This way, you realize quickly when you are full, and indirectly eat less. Thirdly, fiber rich foods/snacks (like popcorn, crackers, berries) contain less calories, but, can satiate your appetite fully.

Lowers Cholesterol
As mentioned above, soluble fiber forms a glue-like paste in the body. The cholesterol particles get attached to it and are washed out of the body through waste. Hence, the density of cholesterol in the bloodstream is reduced. Secondly, fiber lowers the level of low-density lipoprotein, thus, helping in lowering cholesterol. Therefore, it indirectly helps in the prevention of heart diseases.
Sources of Fiber
Fiber is found in a variety of fruits (apples, bananas, dates, figs, oranges, prunes, raspberries, red currants, strawberries, etc.), vegetables (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, black beans, carrots, cauliflower, Lima beans, potatoes, peas, soybeans, sweet corn, spinach, tomatoes, turnip greens, etc.), grains (barley, brown rice, oat bran, rye, whole-wheat, wheat bran, etc.), and nuts (almonds, pistachios, pecans, raisins, etc.).
You may also come across fiber supplements in the form of pills, powder, etc. However, natural fibers in the form of fruits and vegetables should be preferred over supplements as natural foods usually do not have any side effects (when eaten in proper amounts). In case you want to consider using supplements, you should consult the doctor.
The daily requirement of fiber depends on age, gender, and the amount of calories you consume throughout the day. You can consult a nutritionist or a doctor to know your daily required intake of fiber.
Lastly, as a caution, you should remember that although very useful, fiber (in any form) should not be consumed in excess, or it can lead to side effects. What is expected is to include proper amounts of high-fiber foods in your daily diet. It is recommended to consult the doctor before making any significant changes in the diet or before going for supplements. Take care!
Disclaimer: This article is meant only to provide information. It is not to be substituted for proper medical advice.