Dietary fiber is well-known to be beneficial for health. But did you know that other than the effects it has on your gut health, it also has a myriad of other benefits ranging from controlling blood sugar levels and cholesterol levels? How does dietary fiber help in improving them? Read on to find out more about the 4 health benefits of dietary fiber, and start your journey to maintain a healthy lifestyle!
Perhaps the most well-known function of dietary fiber is its role it plays in maintaining good digestive health. People with optimal digestive health usually experience less gastrointestinal symptoms, such as constipation and/or diarrhea.
There are 2 types of dietary fiber which help improve bowel movement in different ways:
- Insoluble fiber helps to increase bulk to promote regular bowel movement.
- Soluble fiber absorbs water in the intestines, which helps softens the stool for smoother bowel movement.
Satiety is the feeling of fullness after eating. Studies have also shown that taking dietary fiber is associated with a lower body weight, and managing satiety (which in return leads to reduction in energy and calories intake) has been touted as a possible explanation for this .
Dietary fiber reduces the time taken for food to move from your stomach into your intestine and this keeps you feeling full for a longer time, thus possibly reducing your appetite and energy intake. In addition, food with higher dietary fiber content takes a longer time to chew, thus slowing down your food intake .
Some studies have shown that even a small increase in intake of dietary fiber may help improve sugar level in the blood. Dietary fiber may delay the absorption of glucose into the bloodstream from the digestive tract. Hence, reducing sudden spikes of glucose in the blood and enabling the body to manage blood sugar level more efficiently . Some soluble fiber may also form gel-like substance in the stomach, which can also slow down digestion .
Cholesterol plays a role in bile production in the body. When dietary fiber is present in the diet, it hinders the reabsorption of bile and hence the body will be required to replace the unabsorbed bile salts. This increases the amount of cholesterol being removed from the blood for bile production . Soluble fiber has been shown to be associated with a small but significant decrease in total cholesterol as well as low-density-lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (also often terms as the 'bad' cholesterol) .