William Shatner brought fiber to the forefront with his recent All Bran Challenge campaign that touts the fact that this little miracle grain can make you feel like a million bucks. Most people know that fiber makes your “number 2” its number one priority, but little is known about how it works. Let’s get started!
Unlike most food that is broken down into extremely small molecules that are then absorbed by the intestinal wall, fiber is not able be digested by the body regardless of whether it is soluble or insoluble. Insoluble fiber helps moved broken down food through the intestines and aides in digestion by controlling and balancing the pH of both the large and small intestine. It’s important to consume insoluble fiber because it helps alleviate constipation, moves waste and toxins in a timely manner, and helps prevent colon cancer because of its pH balancing properties.
On the flip side, soluble fiber requires water to help it move through the system and actually forms a gel like substance when mixed with H2O. It functions by binding with fatty acids and slows the time the stomach takes to empty into the large intestines – meaning, it helps you feel full for a longer period of time. Ensuring that you are consuming a healthy amount of soluble fiber will positively impact your health by lowering unhealthy levels of cholesterol (LDL) which in turn prevents heart disease. Soluble fiber is also great for diabetics who need to stabilize blood-glucose levels (this is achieved by the longer than average time the stomach takes to empty contents into the large intestine).
The picture below summarizes the many health benefits of fiber: