A low-fiber diet can be as harmful to your body as cigarette-smoking, high serum cholesterol and high blood pressure as a contributing factor for heart disease. Almost 90 percent of diseases can be contributed to some extent to an unhealthy digestive system. If you haven't already, fiber is a health factor to which you need to pay attention.
There are two kinds of fiber: soluble and insoluble. In addition, there are six major forms of fiber: cellulose, hemicellulose, lignin, pectin, gums and mucilages. Fiber is a carbohydrate food component that has no calories and is not digested. Fiber's value instead lies in the process of working its way through the body.
Soluble fiber, found in substances like locust beans and fruit, includes pectins, gums and mucilages and lowers cholesterol and blood pressure, promotes the growth of friendly bacteria, reduces the risk of heart disease, and improves blood sugar.
Insoluble fiber, found in oats, barley, fruits and vegetables, includes cellulose, lignins and some hemicellulose. It aids in waste elimination and digestion, acts as a natural laxative and promotes bowel regularity.
With the benefits of a high-fiber diet so great, it is an important step to make sure you get enough fiber. The National Cancer Institute recommends 20 to 30 grams of fiber daily. To obtain this level, have three to five servings of whole grain breads and cereals plus three servings of vegetables plus two to three servings of fruit.