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Friday, August 24, 2007

Fiber Myths and Facts

By Rick Davis, Senior P.A.

1. Statement: All forms of dietary fiber are the same.

Myth or Fact? Myth. Fiber can be classified into two types: soluble (dissolves in water and may form a gel) and insoluble (does not dissolve in water). Soluble fiber can help to lower cholesterol and regulate glucose levels as well as regularity. Examples of soluble fiber include oats, many fruits and vegetables, beans, barley, and psyllium. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to the stool and contributes to bowel regularity. Examples are whole-wheat flour, wheat bran and some vegetables. Virtually all plant foods contain soluble and insoluble fiber.

2. Statement: Certain fiber supplements can help build bone strength.

Myth or Fact? Fact. Fiber itself does not contribute to bone strength or calcium metabolism, but some fiber supplements do contain calcium as an ingredient which will help with good bone health. Examples are calcium polycarbophil in Fibercon® and Metamucil® Capsules Plus Calcium.

3. Statement: Dense meats such as steak and pork are good sources of dietary fiber.

Myth or Fact? Myth. Dietary fiber is derived from plant products.

4. Statement: A high-fiber diet may promote weight loss.

Myth or Fact? Fact. Dietary fiber enhances satiety (feeling full while eating) and may prevent over-eating. High-fiber diets tend to have more volume and less calories than other types of diets.

5. Statement: You only need dietary fiber if you suffer from constipation.

Myth or Fact? Myth. In addition to promoting regularity, fiber lowers the risk of developing many life-threatening disease and conditions, such as heart disease, certain forms of cancer, diabetes, stroke and obesity. Soluble fiber, found in oat bran, oranges, apples, carrots and dried beans, entraps cholesterol components in the blood which can help lower cholesterol and prevent heart disease. And because fiber is not digested it keeps you feeling full for longer, which can minimize or eliminate unnecessary snacking that can lead to obesity and/or certain types of diabetes.

6. Statement: A high-fiber diet helps prevent colon cancer.

Myth or Fact? Fact. Some studies show that a high-fiber diet will prevent colon cancer. However, the best approach to preventing colorectal cancer is to undergo regular screening for and removal of colon polyps, along with smoking cessation, a diet low in saturated fat, maintaining a normal body weight and engaging in physical activity.

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