The importance of fibers
The dietary fibers are plant food substances which are not broken down by enzymes in the digestive system of the body. With their fibrous structure, they form the woody cell walls, which maintain the cohesion of plants, vegetables and fruits. Just because they are not digested by the body, they do not have any nutritional value and can not produce energy. However, they are participating in many functions necessary to maintain the good condition of our health.
SOLVENT AND NON-SOLVENT PLANT FIBERS
Insoluble fibers composed of cellulose hemi cellulose and lignin are found mainly in cereals and vegetables. They absorb large amounts of water and regulate the enteric function, while the soluble fiber such as pectin, gum and micelles, are found primarily in fruit and legumes. They create a kind of gel in the intestine, where they are fermented and involved in controlling the absorption of nutrients (sugars and fats), helping to maintain control of the levels of sugar and blood cholesterol.
The ideal daily fiber intake recommended by dieticians and nutritionists is 30 grams, a sufficient quantity to regulate enteric function and prevent constipation and other more serious enteric problems. The amount of fibers varies depending on the type of food. One hundred grams of biscuits contain an average of 2.6 gr. of fibers. The same quantity of wheat bran contains 42.4 gr, durum wheat contains 2.7 gr. and wholewheat bread 6.5 gr. As for vegetables, the richer in fibers are the boiled artichokes with 7.8 gr. and fresh peas with 6.2 gr. Most high-fibers fruit are pears (2.9 gr.) and bananas (1.8 gr). Thus, the fibers intake, except for bread and pasta, there`s nothing better than the Mediterranean diet, namely fruits, vegetables, cereals and pulses. This is the best recipe for fighting and preventing a broad group of health problems. It is certainly important not to overdo it because too much fiber intake may reduce the body`s ability to absorb certain essential minerals (iron, calcium and zinc), present in food as well as in some drugs, causing enteric gas.
THE IMPORTANCE OF PROPER BALANCE
First and foremost is that the fibers play an important role in controlling hunger. The fact is that once they reach the stomach, their volume increases and they convey rapidly a feeling of fullness. That is why fiber supplements are often recommended in cases of diet for weight loss, especially those containing the most effective category of insoluble fibers.
As mentioned above, the regulation of enteric functions is of high importance. The intake of just 15 grams of fibers per day is enough to help the intestine to function more effectively, facilitating the movement of food. The consumption of dietary fibers provides a brief stay of food in the gut, thereby reducing the incidence of various problems such as haemorrhoids, constipation and other more serious diseases.
Regarding the control of triglycerides and cholesterol, dietary fibers containing pectin and gum manage to “trap” various nutrients and reduce the absorption of fats such as cholesterol. The insulin, for example, facilitates the absorption of calcium, while nourishing the good bacteria in the colon. The lignin inhibits the uptake of fatty substances. Pectin limits the absorption of glucose, reducing the need of the body for insulin and helps in the prevention of senile diabetes.