Dietary Fiber

Although technically not a nutrient, dietary fiber has recently been referred to as the seventh essential nutrient due to the number of health implications associated with this compound.  For example, after ingestion, dietary fiber, particularly Water-Insoluble Fiber has a tendency to hold water, therefore, adding bulk to the food particles or residues that may not have been absorbed in the small intestine.  This bulking action increases stool volume and weight by as much as 40%-100% and has been linked to a possible cleansing effect on the surface of the intestinal wall and colon by diluting harmful chemicals or by neutralizing their activity and therefore reducing the chances of contracting colon cancer and other gastrointestinal disorders.  Water-Soluble Fibers on the other hand (such as oatmeal) have a greater tendency to bind with various substances such as carcinogens (cancer causing agents) in the GI tract and bile salts, which are manufactured in the liver and which contain cholesterol.  Bile salts are often times reabsorbed into the body however, the binding effects of water-soluble fibers have been associated with the excretion of bile salts and now have scientists believing that a diet high in Water-Soluble Fiber may lead to lower serum cholesterol levels.

As indicated, dietary fiber exists in two basic forms, Walter Soluble and Water-Insoluble.  Water-Soluble dietary fibers include Guar guns and pectins (also referred to as Mucilaginous fibers) such as those found in oatmeal, beans, peas, carrots and a variety of fruits.  Water-Insoluble fibers such as cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin are found in wheat bran, corn and brown rice.

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In health and honor,
William Smith/aka Thunder of the American Gladiators

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