Dietary Fiber Supplements

Written by Emily Ledbetter
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Dietary fiber is the part of a plant that provides and maintains the plant's structure. There are a number of different dietary fibers but they all have one thing in common--they can't be digested by the human body. Research shows that diets high in natural fiber can prevent the development of a number of critical health problems including heart disease, intestinal disorders, diabetes and elevated cholesterol.

Soluble vs. Insoluble

All plant-based foods that we eat are full of fiber, with most whole foods containing two essential forms of fiber--soluble and insoluble. Both types of fiber are needed to maintain a healthy intestinal tract and promote healthy and regular bowel movements.

Soluble fiber bonds with water in the digestive system and, among its other benefits, seems to bind up cholesterol allowing it to be eliminated with the stool. If enough is removed it can lower the blood cholesterol 10-15 percent, which may help prevent heart disease and stroke. This type of fiber is found in oatmeal, oat bran, fruit, psyllium, barley and legumes.

Insoluble fiber acts as a natural laxative that speeds the passage of foods through the intestinal tract. Vegetables and the peels of many fruits are high in insoluble fiber. Wheat, rye, bran and other grains are also a good source.

Increasing Fiber Intake

Despite the understanding of the role fiber plays in maintaining general health, many Americans consume only half the amount of daily fiber recommended by experts. Fiber is available as a supplement in several forms including tablets, capsules and powders. Supplements are also an alternative for individuals who do not tolerate fibrous foods well. These products absorb water and produce the bulk necessary for the digestive tract to perform naturally. For this reason, they can be very useful in preventing and treating digestive tract disorders.


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