We all know the benefits of fiber! Fiber not only promotes health, it also help reduce the risk for some chronic diseases. Both soluble and insoluble fiber are undigested. They are therefore not absorbed into the bloodstream. Instead of being used for energy, fiber is excreted from our bodies. Soluble fiber forms a gel when mixed with liquid, while insoluble fiber does not. Insoluble fiber passes through our intestines largely intact.
Dietary fibers are the indigestible portion of plant foods that move food through the digestive system and absorb water. There are two principal types of dietary fiber: soluble and insoluble. Insoluble fiber is simply bulk that changes little as it passes through the body. Soluble fiber, on the other hand, forms a soft gel in solution with water. Most foods provide a mixture of both, but are listed as mostly one or the other. Soluble fiber has been shown to be able to bind bile salts which may reduce blood cholesterol levels. It also may slow the absorption of glucose from the intestine, thereby requiring less insulin secretion.
Fiber may decrease spasms in the gastrointestinal tract by keeping the lumen distended. The main value of dietary fiber is that it provides bulk to the bolus moving through the digestive tract. There are two great advantages to this: by bulking up the bolus, eventually increasing the weight of the stool, it’s easier for the digestive system to move it through, and the bulkier stool also tends to retain normal amounts of moisture to make it easier to eliminate with less straining and abrasion. The moisture content of human stool does not change when more fiber is consumed, except marginally from psyllium husk (Eastwood et. al & Prynne et. al). Because the bowel regulation is mostly due to bulking and not to increased water in the stool, it is very unlikely to cause diarrhea unless taken in massive amounts (this is as long as one does not consider synthetic sugars in this category).
Increased fiber consumption appears to lower the risk of developing type II diabetes, heart disease, and diverticulitis.  It may also help prevent high cholesterol and help fight obesity. High-fiber foods help move waste through the digestive tract faster and easier, so possibly harmful substances do not have as much contact with the gastrointestinal tract and reduce straining. Many cause blood sugar or cholesterol absorption to decrease in amplitude of the plotted absorption or decrease the amount absorbed by slowing or decreasing the absorption. Although for years dietary fiber has been said to reduce the risk of colon cancer, one study conducted by researchers at the Harvard School of Medicine of over 88,000 women did not show a statistically significant relationship between higher fiber consumption and lower rates of colorectal cancer or adenomas. Negative effects of dietary fiber include a reduced absorption of vitamins, minerals, proteins, and calories from the gut. Some insoluble fibers can bind to certain minerals: calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and iron. This is unlikely to be harmful in the average adult, but guidelines for the US have been established, and fiber users are advised to avoid taking an insoluble fiber supplement at the same time as, or soon before or after, taking vitamin or mineral supplements.
Sources of Fiber:
Current recommendations suggest that adults consume 20-35 grams of dietary fiber per day, but the average American’s daily intake of dietary fiber is only 14-15 grams.  The ADA recommends trying to get most of your dietary fiber from foods you eat, as an important part of consuming variety, nutrition, synergy between nutrients, and possibly phytonutrients. Soluble fiber is found in many foods, including:
* legumes, (peas, soybeans, and other beans)
* some fruits (particularly apples, bananas), and berries
* certain vegetables, such as broccoli and carrots
* root vegetables, such as potatoes and yams (the skins are insoluble fiber)
* psyllium seed (only about 2/3 soluble fiber).
*Legumes also typically contain shorter-chain carbohydrates that are indigestible by the human digestive tract but which are digested by bacteria in the small intestine, which is a cause of flatulence.
Sources of insoluble fiber include
* whole grain foods
* nuts and seeds
* vegetables such as green beans, cauliflower, zucchini, celery
* the skins of some fruits, including tomatoes
High Fiber Recipe:
Lentil Chicken Salad
2/3 cup lentils
1-1/2 cups water
1/4 cup light mayonnaise
2 tablespoons green onions, chopped
1/8 teaspoon hot red pepper sauce
1 cup cooked chicken, diced
1/2 cup celery, diced
1/2 cup cucumber, diced
1/4 cup green bell pepper, diced
2 ounces chopped pimento
4 cups mixed salad greens
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
Rinse lentils in cold water and drain. Bring water to a boil in a heavy nonstick pan over medium high heat. Reduce heat and add lentils. Cover and simmer about 20 minutes, or until lentils are just tender. Drain and refrigerate until cooled. Combine next 3 ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Combine cooled lentils, chicken and next 4 ingredients in a medium bowl. Pour in dressing and mix gently. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour. To serve, arrange salad greens on individual plates and top with chicken salad. Sprinkle with parsley.
Nutrition information per serving:
40% calories from fat
Dietary Exchanges: Vegetable: 0.8, Bread: 1.2, Lean meat: 1.3, Fat: 1.6, Sugar: 0.1, Very lean meat protein: 0.3
Eat fresh fruits (including the skin and pulp).