Experts say you need a minimum of 30 grams of fiber a day as part of a healthy diet. Reaching that goal is easy by simply popping a fiber supplement, right? Not exactly. Yes, a supplement will provide fiber, but you’ll be missing out on all the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other beneficial nutrients you’d get from eating a fiber-rich food.
Fiber, also known as roughage or bulk, is the carbohydrate in foods your body can’t digest or absorb, and it passes relatively unchanged through your stomach and small intestine and into your colon. There are two types of fiber—soluble, which dissolves in water, and insoluble, which doesn’t—and, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research, your body needs both because:
- Fiber protects the colon’s lining and may keep cancerous cells from developing.
- Fiber increases stool’s bulk and weight, diluting harmful substances and speeding their way through your body.
- Fiber slows digestion, so you feel full longer.
- Some soluble fibers help lower glucose levels and may aid insulin sensitivity.
- Some soluble fibers interfere with how your body absorbs fat and cholesterol, helping to lower blood cholesterol and protect your heart.