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Fiber Benefits

“The best definition of dietary fibre remains to be established, given the potential health benefits of resistant starch.”

                 World Health Organization, Joint WHO/FAO Expert Consultation

            “Diet Nutrition and the Prevention of Chronic Diseases” 2003

 

Resistant starch is one of the best sources of fiber available in a person’s diet. While there are many health benefits from resistant starch, this segment of resistantstarch.com focuses on the needs and health benefits of fiber in the diet.

For specialized information on fiber, click on the links directly below. For an overview of the benefits of fiber in a person’s diet, read on.

 

The Fiber Gap

How much fiber is enough?

Dietary fiber FAQ

What is fiber? A new definition.

Foods that please the senses

Recommendations for the intake of fiber

 

Overview

 

Public health and scientific experts widely recognize that a significant gap exists between the amount of fiber we consume and the optimal amount of fiber for health and wellness. These benefits include health-oriented benefits such as maintenance of weight, and sustained energy but also preventive and curative effects on diabetes, heart disease and gastrointestinal disorders. The National Academy of Sciences of the Institute of Medicine within the United States has recommended a daily intake of 38 grams/day for adult men and 25 grams/day for adult women (September 2002). Many countries around the world recommend 25-30 grams of fiber/day for their populations. The following table illustrates estimated intake of dietary fiber in specific countries.

A well-balanced diet containing the recommended levels of fruits, vegetables and grains delivers a variety of fibers, each of which contribute to maintaining health and wellness.

 

Health Benefits

 

In 2003, the World Health Organization recently concluded that dietary fiber was the only dietary component that had “Convincing Evidence” showing a protective effect against weight gain and obesity. (World Health Organization 2003)  While the exact mechanisms of fiber protecting against weight gain are still under investigation, its ability to increase satiety and therefore decrease subsequent hunger, along with the altering the secretion of hormones related to food digestion, are considered likely mechanisms.  (Slavin, 2005)

 

There are three main categories of dietary fiber, each demonstrating specific health benefits:

 

  • Insoluble fiber
  • Soluble fiber
  • Resistant starch

 

Insoluble fibers promote regularity and provide bulking. In general, however, they are poorly or not fermented.  Some soluble fibers reduce cholesterol absorption and contribute to colonic health via intestinal fermentation.  Some resistant starches reduce the glycemic impact of foods (when substituted for flour) and contribute to colonic and systemic health via fermentation.  In addition, some resistant starches increase lipid metabolism and improve insulin sensitivity. A well balanced diet contains a mixture of different types of dietary fiber.

 

The Stats1

 

The World Health Organization recommends consumption of foods containing >25 grams of total dietary fiber/day. 

 

It is recommended that Australian adults eat at least 30g fiber each day. Most Australians currently eat around 20g fiber each day.

 

The Institute of

Medicine has recommended that American adults eat 14 grams of dietary fiber per 1,000 calories.  The Adequate Intake for adult men is 38 grams of fiber and for adult females is 25 grams of fiber.

 

The Role of Resistant Starch

Historically, fiber containing foods have been coarser, denser and generally less palatable compared to refined, processed foods.  Resistant starch enables the incorporation of dietary fiber into refined, processed foods without losing the taste or significantly changing the texture.  This significantly increases the likelihood that consumers will incorporate fiber-containing foods into their diet. 

 

In addition, resistant starch is well tolerated and causes significantly less side effects (i.e. bloating, gas) commonly associated with other fermentable fibers.

 

References

1.        “Diet, Nutrition and the Prevention of Chronic Diseases”, Report of a Joint WHO/FAO Expert consultation, Technical Report Series 916.  Dietitians Association of Australia, Smart Eating – Fibre (updated November 2005) http://www.daa.asn.au/index.asp?PageID=2145834403.  National Academy of Sciences: Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids (Macronutrients) (2005) USA Food and Nutrition Board,

 
 
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