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The Health Benefits of Fiber in the Diet

Consumed as long as people have eaten plants, dietary fiber has recently come into the view of governments, nutrition advisory groups and the public as one of our most important dietary macronutrients.

However, nutritionists have estimated that Canadians and Americans consume less than 50% of the required daily fiber amount to maintain intestinal health and its multiple other benefits.

Consistent intake of fiber through foods like whole grains, berries and other fresh fruit, vegetables, seeds and nuts is now associated with reduced risk of some of the world's most prevalent diseases including:

* Several types of cancer

* Obesity

* Type 2 diabetes

* High blood cholesterol

* Cardiovascular disease

* Numerous gastrointestinal disorders (constipation, inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, diverticulitis and colon cancer)

Fiber Health Benefits

Recent medical research has proven several physiological benefits of consuming fiber, among which are:

* Improved absorption of calcium, magnesium, and iron

* Reduction of blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels

* Stabilization of blood glucose levels after a meal, i.e., a low glycemic index food source

* Maintenance of an optimal intestinal environment

* Stimulation of immune responses

Recognizing these facts, advisories now exist in several countries for increasing adult intake of dietary fiber to 30 grams per day, double the current intake levels. Achieving this goal has been difficult because high-fiber foods do not always taste good and may lack other qualities needed to attract consumers.