Fiber, also known as roughage or bulk, refers to the undigestible carbohydrates found in whole cereal grains, fruits, vegetables, seeds, legumes and nuts. These indigestible substances facilitate digestion and elimination by carrying other waste products along with them as they leave the digestive tract and by absorbing fluids that make wastes soft enough for easy passage.
Many doctors lay partial blame for various malfunctions and diseases of the bowel, colon, and rectum on a deficiency of fiber in the diet. Without adequate fiber, the intestines and bowel work sluggishly, and the wastes that result from the digestive process remain in your system longer than they should.
Fiber-conscious Americans and inhabitants of other countries where highly refined foods glut the market usually must strive to consume enough fiber. Unfortunately, some weight-conscious people do not consume enough fiber because they mistakenly believe that carbohydrates per se are fattening. Dieters should also be aware that most fiber passes through the body without being absorbed, and according to medical evidence, it can help keep weight down in two distinct ways. First, it is believed to help rid the digestive tract of some fats and carbohydrates that otherwise would eventually be absorbed into the body. Second, fiber's chewy texture and heaviness create a full feeling, making you less tempted to satisfy yourself with refined high-calorie foods.
Too much fiber is bad too. It can cause intestinal gas and hinder your body's ability to absorb certain minerals. How much is too much fiber? Some experts recommend a maximum of about 35 grams per day for the average adult male.
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