Advantages & Disadvantages of Natural Fibers

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Natural fibers are most densely found in the edible skins of certain foods. Natural fibers are referred to as dietary fiber that consists of the bulk of food that your body cannot absorb. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and forms a gel and can be found in flaxseed, apple skins, carrots, barley, beans, peas, oats, citrus and psyllium. Insoluble fibers do not dissolve in water and are part of the elimination process and come from nuts, whole-wheat flour, wheat bran and many vegetables.

Increases Heart Health

According to the American Dietetic Association, you can reduce your risk of heart disease if you consume an adequate amount of fiber. Fiber reduces the cholesterol levels in your blood. This is done with eating soluble fiber that lowers low-density lipoprotein, or “LDL” or “bad” cholesterol. Fiber also reduces hypertension and inflammation to prevent heart attacks. The National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine recommends fiber intakes of 38 g for men and 25 g for women under age 50 and 30 g for men and 21 g for women age 51 and older.

Regulates Blood Sugar Levels

Insoluble fiber is helpful in reducing the risk of acquiring type 2 diabetes. Soluble fiber assists in treating diabetes. It slows down the absorption rate of sugar, which keeps insulin levels balanced.

Weight Loss

Foods high in fiber usually contain less calories per volume of food as refined foods or foods without fiber. Because high-fiber foods contain bulk, it takes more time to chew. This allows more time for your stomach to realize that it is satisfied, and may help prevent you from overeating. Also, because of the bulk, high-fiber foods are more massive and fill your appetite for a longer amount of time than refined carbohydrates like white breads and pastas. This also may mean that you can afford to eat healthier by buying less, but higher quality, fibrous foods.

Intestine Health

Fiber makes your solid waste easier to eliminate because it enlarges and softens it, thereby reducing constipation. Dietary fiber has been known to reduce symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Because fiber adds bulk to your stool, it cleans your intestines.

Prevents Colon Disease and Hemorrhoids

According to the CNN Health website, a high-fiber diet can reduce your risk of hemorrhoids, diverticular disease and other colon diseases.

Too Much Fiber

There is only one minor disadvantage from eating dietary fiber. If you eat too much at one time, it could cause discomfort and constipation. Constipation usually occurs if you also do not drink enough liquids with a fiber supplement. Psyllium husks and whole flaxseed are types of fiber to be most careful with over-consuming.