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Fiber is the material that gives plants texture and support. Dietary fiber is found in many plant foods, including fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and whole grains. Although fiber is primarily made up of carbohydrates, it does not have a lot of calories and usually is not broken down by the body for energy. Fiber is sometimes called roughage.
There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Insoluble fiber, as the name implies, does not dissolve in water because it contains high amounts of cellulose. Insoluble fiber is found in grain brans, fruit pulp, and vegetable peels or skins. Soluble fiber is the type of fiber that dissolves in water. It can be found in a variety of such fruits, grains, and vegetables as apples, oatmeal and oat bran, rye flour and dried beans.
Although the two types of fiber share some common characteristics such as being partially digested in the stomach and intestines and being low in calories, each
High-fiber diet therapy is actually a return to nature and the plant-based diets used by our ancestors since the beginning of time. In fact, our ancestors consumed large quantities of fiber-containing foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grain products every day. As technology advanced, however, people began to turn away from these unprocessed healthful foods and began eating more highly processed and fat-laden foods. As a result, the incidence of coronary heart disease, diabetes, and cancers has steadily risen. Naturopathic physicians, who practice natural healing methods, have long advocated high-fiber diets as a major preventive and therapeutic treatment for these and other diseases. Extensive medical research has now confirmed that a high-fiber diet prevents or treats a wide variety of diseases ranging from constipation to heart disease and cancer.
Author Info: Mai Tran, Teresa G. Odle, The Gale Group Inc., Gale, Detroit, Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine, 2005
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