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The Fiber Story: Soluble Fiber and Insoluble Fiber

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The Fiber Story: Soluble Fiber and Insoluble Fiber"There are two general categories of fiber.--soluble and insoluble. Soluble fibers, which are easily digested, can be divided into three major types: pectins (found in root vegetables, cabbage, apples, whole-wheat bran, and beans);...and mucilages (which are synthesized by plant cells and found in food additives.)

"There are also several types of insoluble fibers. One is cellulose, which can be found in cabbage 'again] peas, apples...whole-wheat flour 'bread]...Lignan, most abundantly found in flaxseed, is a phyto 'plant] chemical that works very much like an insoluble fiber.

"The different types of fiber have individual benefits. For example, lignans and pectins are efficient at binding to ...bile acids in the digestive system. These acids are absorbed by the fiber and subsequently excreted, thus preventing intestinal bacteria from producing carcinogens. Insoluble fibers increase the bulk of feces, thereby reducing the transit time for stool to pass through the intestine. They also help to dilute carcinogens produced by anaerobic 'non-air breathing] bacteria.

"...Longer transit times result in more pressure being exerted in the digestive system to keep the fecal 'mass] moving. This may contribute to the formation of intestinal diverticula 'diverticulitus.]

"Soluble fibers bind to cholesterol and other lipids 'fats] and may help to lower cholesterol levels.

"Several studies indicate that high fiber intake from various sources may decrease the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD.) One...review 'of many studies] not only explored the role that fiber plays in reducing CHD risk but also took into account the benefits of certain nutrients found in high-fiber foods, such as vitamins and antioxidants. In the Nurses' Health Study, which involved nearly 69,000 women in a 10-year follow-up investigation, researchers found that fiber obtained from eating cereals, vegetables and fruit lowered CHD risk. Increased consumption of 'whole] cereal grains conferred the greatest benefit."

He goes on to report on studies showing a reduction in colon cancer and diabetes risks with fiber and relates a World Health Orgs' consensus statement supporting the view that a high-fiber diet reduced the risk of colon cancer.]

The Fiber Story: Soluble Fiber and Insoluble Fiber Bibliography

By J. L. Pettit, founder of the Phytochemical and Nutraceutical Res. Ctr., Hendersonville, NC, in Clinician Reviews vol. 12, 2002.

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