Dietary fiber refers to nutrients in the diet that cannot be digested by gastrointestinal enzymes. It is the indigestible part of plant foods that push through our digestive system, absorbing water along the way, helping to invite peristalsis for healthy bowel function. It is an essential part of a healthy diet.
There are two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber dissolves in water, while insoluble fiber does not. Fiber cannot be digested. Soluble fiber, however, changes as it goes through the digestive tract, where it is fermented, by bacteria. Soluble fiber absorbs water, and becomes gelatinous. Insoluble fiber goes through the digestive tract without changing its forms.
Fiber is beneficial for so many reasons. It helps improve intestinal health, prevents heart disease by lowering LDL, helps prevent some cancers, reduces blood pressure, regulates blood sugar, and aids in weight control.
Insoluble fiber can be found in whole-grain foods such as brown rice, quinoa, millet, bran, many vegetables, and fruit with skin. Soluble fiber dissolves when mixed with water and becomes a gel-like substance, slowing down the movement of food through the small intestine. Sources of soluble fiber include oats, peas, beans, apples, and citrus fruits; one serving of any of these foods provides between one to three grams (g) of soluble fiber.
Evidence suggests that soluble fiber is more effective at lowering cholesterol, but both types of fiber are important for your health. One of the ways soluble fiber may lower blood cholesterol is through its ability to reduce the amount of bile reabsorbed in the intestines. When fiber interferes with absorption of bile in the intestines, the bile is excreted in the feces. To make up for this loss of bile, the liver makes more bile salts. The body uses cholesterol to make bile salts. So in order to obtain the cholesterol necessary to make more bile salts, the liver must increase its production of LDL receptors.
These receptors are responsible for pulling cholesterol out of LDL molecules in the bloodstream. Therefore, the more bile salts are made from the liver, the more LDL cholesterol is pulled from the blood.
Research shows that increasing soluble fiber by 5 to 10 g a day reduces LDL cholesterol by about five percent. Oat bran and oatmeal, as well as psyllium and barley, are rich in beta-glucan, a soluble form of fiber, which has been shown to lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol.
Simple Three-Bean Salad
1 can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed and drained
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can great northern beans, rinsed and drained
2 small onion, chopped
¾-cup apple cider vinegar
½-cup xylitol (natural sweetener)
¼-cup organic extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon pink salt
½ teaspoon pepper
In a large bowl, combine the first six ingredients. In another bowl, whisk the vinegar, xylitol, oil, salt and pepper. Pour over bean mixture and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Serve with a slotted spoon. Optional to garnish with freshly chopped basil and parsley
2 cups pure water
1-cup fresh Italian parsley
½-cup fresh mint, chopped fine
1 bunch green scallions
1-cup cucumber, cut into ½ inch cubes
1 to 2 lemons
2 teaspoons Celtic or pink salt
1/4-cup olive oil
Place quinoa in medium saucepan with 2 cups water to 1-cup quinoa. Bring to boil and reduce down to simmer for about 20 minutes. Lay flat on sheet pan to separate quinoa so it will not stick together. Cool in freezer for 10 minutes. Chop all herbs until minced fine. After quinoa has cooled, add olive oil, sliced scallions herbs, salt and lemon juice. Add cucumber and tomatoes.